Backpack giveaway provides more than 100 Fort Bragg families with school supplies, snacks

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Long lines formed as early as 10 a.m. Monday in the Tolson Youth Center parking lot, as military families waited patiently for a back-to-school giveaway.

Emily Bair was among the first to arrive. She picked up bookbags for her kids who are starting preschool and kindergarten.

"I knew there was going to be a lot of people coming today. I wanted to get here early to ensure we got a spot," Bair said.

A couple cars down Staff Sergeant Jordan Bermudez waited with his soon-to-be fourth grader. He said he was thankful for this effort created to support soldiers like him along with their families.

"You have to think: A lot of the money that people have spent have been going to their supplies for their house, food and other essentials like water. They are trying to make ends meet," Bermudez said.

Fort Bragg's MWR worked with the Gary Senise Foundation, Academy Sports and the Braxton Bragg chapter of AUSA and First Command to distribute 200 backpacks, supplies and boxed lunches.

Organizers of the event said every year a back-to-school bowling event is held and school supplies are handed out, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to readjust.

"This year with the situation with COVID-19, we've had changes on the installation. We chose to do the drive-thru distribution for the safety of staff, kids and families," said Heather Ybarra with MWR.

By the smiles on the kid's faces, you could tell that this giveaway means the school year is already off to a bright start for many.

"For us, this means we'll have what we need for our children to succeed," Bair said.
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