FORT HOOD — Francis Velez’s three school-age children received free backpacks filled with school supplies Saturday during an Operation Homefront Back to School Brigade and USO Bingo event.

Three of Velez’s five children are school-age and Velez 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,” said Velez, with her newborn strapped to her chest.

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

Crouse said the event brought together two great military support agencies to provide a unique event to help Fort Hood children get back-to-school supplies. About $45,000 worth of products were donated.

“Our military children are our next leaders of our great nation so we need to make sure that they have all the things that make each and every school year the best that they can bring,” Crouse said.

With their recent move to Fort Hood in March, Robin Fouts said her family has moved four times in the last two years. The giveaway helped relieve financial stress as she prepares her three children for school.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Fouts said. “Just in the bags, not even including the supplies inside, that saved us $40 right there.”

Velez said her children looked forward to spending the day playing bingo and socializing with other military families.

“It’s not only a financial help but being that my husband is not here, we get to do other things with other families,” she said. “It’s a great benefit to everyone here.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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