KILLEEN — Judith Arreguin of Killeen grinned as she walked away from Long Branch Park with her new baby blue backpack.
“It’s my favorite color,” said Judith, 9.
Judith was just one of 50 to 75 children who will start the school year with a new backpack thanks to employees at the Logistics Readiness Center at Fort Hood, who handed out free backpacks during a free lunch provided by the Focus on Hope outreach program Aug. 12.
The LRC raised $980 to purchase the backpacks online, said Jose Carcano Jr., warranty services assistant with the center.
“A regular backpack costs $34,” Carcano said. “You can buy some for $3, but they’re not good, sturdy ones. We love giving back to the kids.”
Barbara Williams, director of the Greater Love Learning Academy in Killeen, brought children from her day care center to splash at the water park at Long Branch, feast on hamburgers and, most importantly, leave with a new backpack.
“This is a perfect location — they get to get wet and have fun,” Williams said. “Some of them wouldn’t be able to afford a backpack without this, and some of these kids probably won’t get another meal today.”
Volunteers with Focus on Hope set up at parks, apartments and churches six days a week to provide balanced meals for children who might find meals scarce during the summer months. Director Denise Brooks-Robertson estimated the organization fed between 370 and 400 children each day this summer.
Brooks-Robertson said the backpack giveaway was an “excellent collaboration” between the two organizations.
“This is an awesome opportunity to save parents from the expenses of getting their kids ready for school,” she said.
“This is an opportunity for Killeen to see that Fort Hood is participating in their community,” he said.