Story by Angie Thorne on 08/09/2019To lend a hand and take some of the pressure off military Families, the sixth annual Cafeteria Conversation was held at Parkway Elementary School Aug. 1.
The event brought together representatives from the Vernon Parish School District, members of the local community and Operation Homefront to help parents and students gather the tools they need for a successful school year.
Operation Homefront an organization whose mission is to build strong, stable and secure military Families so they can thrive in the communities they've worked so hard to protect partnered with corporate sponsors to provide military parents the backpacks and school supplies they need, said Theresa Heart, Operation Homefront program coordinator for the region.
"School supply costs are rising every year. For military Families, it can be difficult to afford those expenses on a budget," she said. "And as the first day of school gets closer, shelves can quickly empty of essential school supplies. Having access to the items we offer can be critical to filling supply lists."
Parent Eddie Gomez, 286th Medical Detachment, said this event is a huge financial aid to parents, especially those with more than one child. "You might not get everything you need, but you get enough that you don't have to struggle," he said.
Linda Ghant, military spouse and mother, said it's wonderful to get these much-needed school supplies at no cost.
"We have five children, so it's certainly helpful financially but I also like learning about the different after school programs, athletics and resources offered within the community. It's nice to be able to accomplish all of it at the same time," she said.
Andria Daigle, an Operation Homefront volunteer, said she was happy to help parents and student gather their school supplies.
Daigle said two of her kids go to Parkway Elementary, so she understands the importance of providing military Families with the necessary items students need when they walk into their school.
"We have everything they need. That can take a lot of pressure off of parents at what can be a stressful time of year," she said.
Ashley Prejean, Central Texas College site registrar, manned a booth at Cafeteria Conversation. She said it was a wonderful place for the community to show support for military Families.
"I think this is a beneficial resource for military Families. It supports the needs of the students as well as their parents with information and giveaways," she said.
Ann Smith, Vernon Parish School District curriculum director for pre-k through sixth grade, said she has been part of the annual event since its onset.
"Cafeteria Conversation gives parents access to school counselors, administrators and information about their child's school, as well as school supplies all in one location. The time we spend here is so valuable for connecting with our students and parents. These two hours spent together are truly important to educate the Family unit in the best ways to help support the student," she said.