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.”
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.
“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.”