• Layla Washington, age 5, a kindergartener and daughter of Sgt. Donivan Washington, 571st Forward Support Company, carries her newly acquired backpack during the battalion's "Back-to-School Night" July 25, at the Resiliency Training Center, here. The event helped parents supplement the cost of purchasing school supplies.

    School supplies

    Layla Washington, age 5, a kindergartener and daughter of Sgt. Donivan Washington, 571st Forward Support Company, carries her newly acquired backpack during the battalion's "Back-to-School Night" July 25, at the Resiliency Training Center, here. The...

  • A view of backpacks full of school supplies near a stage during the "Back-to-School Night" event, which was hosted by 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, July 25, at the Resiliency Training Center, here. The annual event is held a few weeks prior to the first day of schools throughout the Fort Sill and Lawton community.

    Backpack giveaway

    A view of backpacks full of school supplies near a stage during the "Back-to-School Night" event, which was hosted by 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, July 25, at the Resiliency Training Center, here. The annual event is held a few weeks prior to...

  • Children surround McGruff the Crime Dog during the "Back-to-School Night" event which was hosted by 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, July 25, at the Resiliency Training Center, here. McGruff was portrayed by 1st Lt. Antwan Gleentracy, 1-17th FA signal officer.

    McGruff the Crime Dog

    Children surround McGruff the Crime Dog during the "Back-to-School Night" event which was hosted by 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, July 25, at the Resiliency Training Center, here. McGruff was portrayed by 1st Lt. Antwan Gleentracy, 1-17th FA...

FORT SILL, Okla. -- Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, and their family members gathered together to participate in the unit's "Back-to-School Night" July 25 at the Resiliency Training Center here.

The 230 school-age children in attendance received backpacks with pencils, notebooks and various school supplies.

"Our purpose is to really focus on the families and to give the kids who are going to school an initial set of school supplies that they need for day one," said Lt. Col. Mark Krieger, 1-17th FA commander.

The annual event is traditionally held a few weeks before the first day of school as the school supply shopping season picks up.

Mindy Tomah, a mother of two, one of whom is scheduled to start kindergarten this year, said school supplies are expensive. She credits the "Copperhead Battalion" with helping a lot of its families with the financial aspect of sending children to school by supplementing the cost of purchasing large quantities of school supplies.

The units assigned to the battalion used various methods of compiling lists of needed supplies and raising funds to purchase the items that were necessary to make the event successful.

"We set down and came up with a list of things we needed to buy," said 1st Sgt. Michael Brown, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-17th FA.

Brown said afterward, the battery's leaders and Soldiers made various forms of donations.

Although the event focused on school-age children, it also featured several higher learning institutes from the local area.

Cody Gardner, an admissions counselor with Cameron University, said she worked the event "for any Soldier or spouse who would like to get back to school" for whatever type of degree they are currently pursuing.

"Also, if they have high school students who are interested in college or interested in what we call concurrent enrollment or dual enrollment," said Gardner, "I'm here to be that face that they can get help from - from the university."

As the event came to a close, the kids were visited by a special guest.

"That dog can talk," said a smiling Vivian Tomah, age 3, daughter of Mindy Tomah, as she heard McGruff the Crime Dog talking and interacting with other children near her.

Page last updated Thu August 1st, 2013 at 00:00