News

Operation Backpack 2017: a wildly successful mission

By Jules Bernstein

Photography By Krissy Galbraith and Madeline Burchard

Friday, September 01, 2017

Donation of supply-stuffed backpacks to military families breaks records

Sandia’s California campus this year nearly doubled the number of backpacks filled with school supplies for kids of local military families. A total of 112 backpacks were collected this year; 87 for delivery to US Army Reserves Garrison Camp Parks in Dublin, California, and 25 for Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

The donations far exceeded last year’s total of 65 backpacks collected and the previous year’s 48 backpacks. The impressive haul this year comes courtesy of Sandia employees including security personnel, escorts and personnel from lab contractors JR Griffin and JD General.  

Additionally, donations for this year’s charity operation have rolled in from Lawrence Livermore National Lab employees. The combined total donations from LLNL and Sandia this year exceeded 200 backpacks.

Rachel Sowell (8000) served as the lead point of contact for the project, and it was her idea to recruit Livermoreans. “Before we officially kicked off this summer’s campaign, I realized we could have a broader impact if we reached out to the veterans group at Lawrence Livermore,” she said. “They eagerly accepted the invitation.”

Operation Backpack was founded as a way for the site to thank military families for their sacrifice in service to the nation. The back-to-school season can be a stressful and costly time for any family, but can be especially trying for military families with a deployed family member or single-earner households.

By providing school supplies, the Operation Backpack planning committee helps alleviate stress and lets military families know that they are supported by the Sandia/California community.

Due to the wild success of this year’s drive, Operation Backpack will expand to a third military base for the 2018-19 school year.

Operation Backpack
SANDIANS pose amidst an overflow of donations. Bottom, left to right: Associate Labs Director Dori Ellis and Rachel Sowell (8000). Top, left to right: Adrian Valenzuela, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Sarah Ann Flores (8524), Brian Abelgas (8146), and Angela Tallman, LLNL.