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Kids receive free school supplies at deployment line

Mackenzie Buss, daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Buss, an executive officer assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, wears mission-oriented protective posture gear during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Mackenzie Buss, daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Buss, an executive officer assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, wears mission-oriented protective posture gear during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Kids Deployment Line offered children the experience of pre-deployment while also allowing them to meet some of the other children in their grade. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)

Braden Pewo, son of Blake Pewo, a C-17 aircrew chief at the 97th Maintenance Group, observes the capabilities of a fire hydrant during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Braden Pewo, son of Blake Pewo, a C-17 aircrew chief at the 97th Maintenance Group, observes the capabilities of a fire hydrant during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The deployment line featured several different activities and aspects of deployment for children to learn from, including; firing a simulated rifle, a physical fitness test, receiving dog tags and wearing mission-oriented protective posture gear. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)

Nathan Covington, a school liaison officer at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, hands out a backpack for preschoolers at the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Nathan Covington, a school liaison officer at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, hands out a backpack for preschoolers at the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The A&FRC partnered with the Armed Services YMCA and other local education centers to provide parents information about educational opportunities in the local area and give our free school supplies to children. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Thomas, a commander assigned to the 97th Civil Engineering Squadron, shops for school supplies with his family during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Thomas, a commander assigned to the 97th Civil Engineering Squadron, shops for school supplies with his family during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Free school supplies were handed out after the Kids Deployment Line to aid in preparing children for school and to ease the financial burden on parents. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)

Altus Air Force Base gives kids a pre-deployment experience. Kids simulate out-processing by shooting a nerf gun, trying on chem-gear, doing push-ups, and receiving dog tags, all to demonstrate what their parents go through before going down range.

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla --

The Airman and Family Readiness Center  assisted military families and their children by providing school supplies during a Kids Deployment Line event, August 2, 2018, at Altus AFB.

 

With the start of school right around the corner, the base held an event to help military families prepare.

 

“The goal of handing out school supplies was to get kids focused on going back to school and to ease the financial burden on parents,” said Nathan Covington, a school liaison officer at the A&FRC. “The first thing I thought of was that every child needs a backpack, then we added some of the other necessities: pencils, sharpeners, pens, notebooks and so on. We couldn’t give them everything on their supply list but we definitely wanted to help them get at least the necessities that they needed to start school.”

 

Handing out school supplies was only one of the goals of the Kids Deployment Line. The event also gave parents a way of making connections in their local community.

 

“I think this is a great way to network,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christie Kidder, NCO in charge of A&FRC. “I’ve been in Altus for a long time and it’s the connections between people that makes this place great.”

 

VIDEO | 01:14 | Kid's Deployment Line
More than 250 children participated in the deployment line. During the event, the children were able to experience out-processing, wear mission-oriented protective posture gear, simulate loading an aircraft and other deployment-related activities. During that time, parents were free to check out the school supply and education information booths that were available separate from the deployment line.

 

“We wanted to engage with parents on all levels,” said Covington. “We wanted to reach those who recently transitioned in, have a spouse deployed or are deploying soon. It’s our job to aid families with any issues or concerns whether that be school issues or any other issues that may arise while the other parent is deployed.”

 

Life as a military family can be stressful. Handing out school supplies was one way the base wanted to give parents some relief from the day-to-day concerns.

 

“This event tried to take a little bit of that trouble of shopping for school supplies away from parents to lessen the stress,” said Covington. “It’s my job to help the parent and the student get adjusted and acclimated into their new environment and get assistance with their education. I love kids and it gives me energy to help kids and work with them to meet their goals.”

 

And Altus ties to assist its Airmen and families any way they can, while showing parents that they are appreciated; doing that while also giving their children a taste of what pre-deployment looks like is an added bonus.

 

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Thomas, a commander assigned to the 97th Civil Engineering Squadron, shops for school supplies with his family during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.
Kids receive free school supplies at deployment line
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Thomas, a commander assigned to the 97th Civil Engineering Squadron, shops for school supplies with his family during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Free school supplies were handed out after the Kids Deployment Line to aid in preparing children for school and to ease the financial burden on parents. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)
“I loved this event,” said U.S. Lt. Col. Steven Thomas, commander of the 97th Civil Engineering Squadron. “It was very interactive. I liked seeing the base support all the families and showing the kids what we go through when we deploy. This was fantastic.”

 

After the kids finished filing through the deployment line, they were given the opportunity to visit the education booths themselves to receive school supplies, as well as meet guests from the local education centers around the base and the community.

 

“The community support here at Altus is better than anywhere I’ve ever been,” said Thomas.

 

For military families, life can be a challenge, especially when one of the parents is deployed. Luckily, Altus is looking to more innovative ways to aid families going through or preparing to go through this transition.

 

“I think that knowledge is power,” said Kidder. “I thought we could support our families and also let them know that there are other people out there who might be in the same situation, with a loved one deployed. Therefore, people know they’re not alone.”

 

Mackenzie Buss, daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Buss, an executive officer assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, wears mission-oriented protective posture gear during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.
Mackenzie Buss, daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Buss, an executive officer assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, wears mission-oriented protective posture gear during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Kids Deployment Line offered children the experience of pre-deployment while also allowing them to meet some of the other children in their grade. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)
Mackenzie Buss, daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Buss, an executive officer assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, wears mission-oriented protective posture gear during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.
Kids receive free school supplies at deployment line
Mackenzie Buss, daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Mary Buss, an executive officer assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, wears mission-oriented protective posture gear during the Kids Deployment Line, August 2, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Kids Deployment Line offered children the experience of pre-deployment while also allowing them to meet some of the other children in their grade. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jackson N. Haddon)