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Students get geared up for start of school

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 4:30 am

Since being medevaced to the U.S. following an improvised explosive device blast in 2011, Staff Sgt. Garin Fouts’ family has moved four times. The 1st Cavalry Division soldier, his wife, Robin, and their two children moved to Fort Hood in March.

As the family prepares for the school year, they were thankful for local nonprofits, which provided them with essentials Saturday during an Operation Homefront Back to School Brigade and USO Bingo event.

About 1,200 children received free backpacks and school supplies, with several more receiving gift cards and goodie bags after rounds of bingo.

“It’s absolutely amazing. Just in the bags, not even including the supplies inside, that saved us $40 right there,” Robin Fouts said. “It’s nice to know that people are still there for my husband and my kids; that we’re not forgotten just because everything kind of died down over the years from when (the war) first started.”

About 50 volunteers stuffed backpacks with supplies Friday at the Lions Den in Killeen and $45,000 worth of products were donated to military children.

Tracy Curran, community liaison for Operation Homefront’s Texas field office, said the combined event not only gave families with back-to-school supplies, but also let them enjoy a morning of fun and door prizes.

“Operation Homefront is very aware that military families deal not only with deployments and the other stresses of military life, but also the economic difficulties shared by all Americans,” Curran said. “The donated backpacks and school supplies enhance the morale and the success of our military children, while easing the burden military families carry.”

Three of Francis Velez’s five children are school-aged. The military wife said the nonprofit eased the stress of providing them with essentials.

“In our case, it helps so much because we’re a family of seven and my husband is the only one who’s working,” Velez said. “It’s not only a financial help but being that my husband is not here, we get to do other things with other families.”

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