FORT SILL, Okla.-- 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery conducted a family readiness group meeting where they handed out hundreds of free backpacks full of school supplies for students pre-kindergarten through high school Aug. 7 at the Resiliency Training Campus.

"The leaders and members of the FRG discussed how the teachers had to start buying school supplies with their own money to provide the resources to teach students," said Lt. Col. Mark Krieger Jr., 1-17th FA commander. "So, now that has been put on the parents to purchase more school supplies."

The battalion came up with the backpack giveaway to help offset the cost of buying school supplies.

The event provided financial and other assistance to families of service members within the battalion.

"It saves the service member a lot of money, especially if you have more than one school age child," said Spc. Ryan Lauterberg, C Battery, 1-17th FA cannon crewmember.

Out of the 200 backpacks the battalion handed out, Lauterberg picked up three for his school age children.

The battalion served all the children regardless of the rank of their sponsors. The school supplies collected were donations for the backpacks, said Heidi Bond, 75th Fires Brigade family readiness support assistant. Items donated included the backpacks, spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, notebook paper, rulers, two-pocket folders, glue, colored pencils and facial tissue.

"Also, what made this event so successful is that we did not just focus on the kids, but we provided something for everyone," said Krieger.

In addition to distributing the backpacks, different agencies and schools where there including: the Army Education Center, Cameron University, Lawton Academy of Arts and Sciences, Enrollment and Student Services of Lawton Public Schools, Trinity Christian Academy, University of Oklahoma, Upper Iowa University, Wayland Baptist University, Webster University and Fort Sill Lead Volunteer Coordinator for Home School Association for Military Families.

The battalion also had McGruff the Crime Dog there to take photos with the kids.

"It has been busy," said Bond. "It was a lot of work, but everyone in the battalion was involved in the event including the service members."

All the work that was put into conducting this event was well worth it, said Krieger.

"It is good to see that the battalion cares that much about the family members," said Lauterberg. "This was an awesome event for family and the kids."

They got lots of the needed school supplies, said Lauterberg, of his three children.

"The family members of the battalion were very grateful for the event."

"This was the first time the battalion tried to do something like this," said Krieger. "The battalion is absolutely going to be doing it again next year."

The battalion had a huge turn-out for this event, said Krieger, who estimated close to 400 service members and their family members showed up.

"It was a great event, and we are going to start planning earlier for next year's event," he said.