News: Army Reserve unit reaches out to local community hit hard by Hurricane Sandy
Story by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. – The Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command, headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., delivered seven boxes of school supplies to the Frog Pond Elementary School here Nov. 13 that were donated by Operation Homefront.
The donation presented an opportunity for the Army Reserve to give back to one of the many local communities in which its soldiers live and work, at a time when many cities and towns in New Jersey and other states are reeling in the aftermath Hurricane Sandy.
“In most of our communities, we have a high population of Army Reserve children in each of those communities, especially at this school,” explained Sue Costain, a contractor with Odyssey-TCI who serves as a school services specialist with the 99th RSC’s Child, Youth and School Services.
“We have numerous civilian employees as well as soldiers who have their children go to school here,” she continued. “Because of that, we have a lot of support in the community of Little Egg Harbor and the surrounding areas for those families in their times of deployments and their times of need.
“Now that the situation is reversed and we have a lot of our civilian community members who are in need of services and support due to the hurricane, the Army Reserve and Army Reserve Family Programs thought that we would try to do what we could to help them,” Costain said.
One way to help was to take the 99th RSC’s remaining donations from Operation Homefront, whose mission it is to provide emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors, and deliver them to the unit’s civilian neighbors in need.
“We had all these donations from Operation Homefront that we had donated to our families back in the August/September timeframe, so Child, Youth and School services thought a good way to use those supplies that were surplus would be to donate them to the community members who lost everything,” Costain explained.
The donated school supplies included pens, pencils, erasers, paper, notebooks and other necessities that many local families lost to flooding or other damage during the storm.
The idea to bring these items to Frog Pond Elementary came from three of its students, siblings Aidan, Nolan and Gabbi Rollison, whose mother Tiffani works as a senior special agent with the 99th RSC’s Directorate of Emergency Services.
“When they suggested donating to the school, it made me teary eyed,” said Rollison of her 10-year-old triplets. “My kids make me smile.”
Through efforts such as this, the Army Reserve continues to offer aid to its fellow community members as they recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, one neighborhood at a time.