FORT CARSON, Colo. - Members of the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Sergeants Major Association, with support from Fort Carson Sergeant Audie Murphy Club members, handed out 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to students at Pikes Peak Elementary School, Monday.
The school is part of Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs.
“The intent of this drive is to show the connection between the (association) and the local community,” said Sgt. Maj. Cesar Bueno, president, Sergeants Major Association. “As a result, we help students by giving them school supplies. Sometimes they can’t always get what they need because of family situations. We do what we can, because every little bit helps.”
The association provides educational supplies to high-need areas in Colorado Springs every year, as a way to promote success in schools.
“We give them notebooks, markers, pens, pencils, erasers, glue, folders, all the necessary tools for the students to fulfill the grade requirements,” Bueno said.
This drive marks the second year that the association has been linked with the district.
Master Sgt. Courtney Williams, Sergeant Audie Murphy Club vice president, 59th Military Police Company, 759th Military Police Battalion, along with his fellow SAMC members, helped distribute backpacks to the students.
“This is the second year that we’ve assisted … with the backpack drive,” said Williams. “We have a really good relationship with the (association), because we have the same goals; it’s a way for military members to give back and help the community by volunteering.”
The money for the drive came from the association’s golf tournament, the major fundraiser to help purchase supplies, which the SAMC assisted in running.
Linda Donaldson, principal, Pikes Peak Elementary, said she was grateful to the soldiers for their contributions and that the students were especially excited with their visit and gifts.
“I think this is really important; it helps the students with their self-esteem, and gives them an opportunity to see people in uniform do great things,” said Donaldson.
She also said the school’s new uniform policy has helped the students connect with the soldiers.
“Having the military come in, seeing them in uniform, and having our kids in uniforms has made a connection for them,” Donaldson said. “It gives them the opportunity to make connections with what’s going on in the real world and what’s going on at their school.
“The military population in our school is not huge, but it’s great because it gives our students the chance to see how Fort Carson — the military — plays into the community,” said Donaldson. “Having backpacks just shows that there are people out in the community that really care about them and their education.”
The vice president of the association, retired Sgt. Maj. Ray Parnell, also attended the drive to show his support.
“The bottom line is that the local community and the military community are interconnected in such a way that one would not be successful without the other,” said Parnell. “This is just the (association’s) community by extension of the military community of Colorado Springs, networking with and supporting our local community that’s been such a great support to the military.”