Offutt’s Operation Backpack bigger than ever Published July 24, 2023 By Nicholas Harnack, 55th Wing Public Affairs OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Over 700 children are headed back to school with a new backpack filled to the brim with free school supplies after attending Operation Backpack July 20, 2023, at the Offutt Youth Center. Child and Youth Programs and several community partners provided backpacks and school supplies to children of military and Department of Defense civilian personnel. “We want to make sure our families are ready to go back to school. So, this is our way of helping those students be ready and to help offset some of the items they need and make things a little easier, so they start out on the right foot the first day of school,” said Liane Yanikov, Child and Youth Programs school liaison. Community partners including public schools, learning services and organizations offering college and post high school planning manned various family-focused booths and displays. Several Air Force and DoD helping agencies attended the event, including Military OneSource representatives and Military Family Life Counselors, who are an independent and confidential resource for those seeking mental help and family relationship counseling. The Offutt Chapel showcased their summer camps and fall family programming. Other service-oriented community organizations shared information on their activities and programs that focus on life skills and science, technology, engineering and math outside of the classroom. “I am grateful for all the effort that goes into this program from our base and community. We appreciate the donation of supplies in preparing our four kids for a successful school year,” said Denise Vanourney. Organizers reserved the first hour of the event for Exceptional Family Member Program families and offered a smaller group size and sensory friendly atmosphere for their children to enjoy the activities and partner displays. EFMP coordinators attended to casually meet with families they serve and see the children in their care. The School Liaison office and EFMP hold this event every year as a means for families of Team Offutt to gather in one location to learn about educational services and activities in and outside the classroom. The School Liaison office will have any leftover school supplies available on a first come, first served basis. Bellevue Public Schools start August 10 and Papillion-La Vista Community Schools start on August 10 & 11, 2023.