FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 8, 20011) -- Recently, as the start of a new school year quickly approached for children throughout Virginia, students at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy took a little time and money to purchase and fill new backpacks for children of low-income families in Richmond.

Members of the advanced leader and senior leader courses donated money to purchase notebooks, crayons, colored pencils, pens, glue sticks and other supplies to give to students at the YMCA of Greater Richmond.

NCOA 1st Sgt. Jeffrey Hulum III is a regular volunteer at the downtown YMCA branch and knew of the school supply drive, so he suggested it to the SLC and ALC students for a volunteer project.

"We wanted to help students be successful," said Sgt. lst Class Margaretta Watkins, a small group leader and operations sergeant for quartermaster SLC. "We know times are tough for a lot of families and that buying new school clothes and supplies is often a stressful time for parents who are stretching their dollars extremely thin. We wanted to help, so we each donated a few dollars and were able to put together several backpacks."

With the collected monies, volunteers were able to purchase more than 140 backpacks and fill them with supplies for donation at the downtown YMCA branch.

Despite many of them having children of their own and also being students, the Soldiers at the NCOA wanted to do what they could to help children get a good start this year.

"We realize that school supplies don't guarantee a student's success, but we know that children who are well prepared and know that others care about their future are less likely to fall behind," Watkins said. "We all have our own obligations, but the bottom line is we care about future military members, leaders, doctors and lawyers. We want these students to know they matter and we'll help them get where they are headed."