As the new school year approaches, Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization, joined forces with other volunteers to sponsor a backpack giveaway for military children.

Hundreds of children from Fort Hood military families walked the halls of Shilo Inn in Killeen on Saturday morning, anticipating the giveaway and excited about the new year.

The hotel donated space for the event, which distributed 750 backpacks full of school supplies to pre-registered military children.

“Our desire is to do our part in building strong, stable and secure military families” said former military spouse Erica Howe, area manager Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that supports military families.

“I know what it’s like not to have what’s needed and how hard it can sometimes get while serving our country,” she said. “Operation Homefront allows me to give back.”

Melisa Chambers and her son Arron Bell were filled with excitement as they were pronounced winners of 52 Whataburger coupons and a laptop.

“How awesome this event is, and how generous the sponsors, wanting to help and assure that our children have what they need to thrive” Chambers said. “I couldn’t feel more supported.”

More Chrome laptops were distributed to high school students by Shaun O’Rourke, a representative of CDW Corp., which provides technology products.

“It’s our desire to provide the tools military children require, and to prepare them for the new school year,” O’Rourke said.

Military spouse Crystal Latham, a mother of five, said every little bit helps.

“Although, I must admit, I received much more than I expected,” she said. “Events that support our community in this way make me know I’m not alone.”

Since 2008, Operation Homefront has provided more than a quarter-million backpacks filled with supplies to military children.

“It won’t be long before we will give away the 300,000th backpack; we’re pumped about that” said Howe.

“Operation Homefront is completely dedicated to our military community, supporting programs that assist with critical financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing, and family support that’s designed to keep small problems from becoming huge issues.”

As the families made their way to their cars with overflowing arms, they stopped to sign notes thanking the volunteers and donors who made Operation Homefront a success.

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