( Leonna Heuring, Staff)
To help relieve some of the emotions that come with the situation, the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 114 of Sikeston for the past several years has offered free backpacks for local children of active military personnel.
"It's a good program, and it helps a lot of the children," said Tammey Cummins, chaplain and Junior Auxiliary chairman in Sikeston.
The program, created through the national organization Operation: Military Kids, offers Hero Packs" to children in prekindergarten through third grade. Hero Packs are knapsacks filled with a variety of items given to military youth as a "thank you" for the sacrifices they make while their parents are deployed.
Missouri American Legion partnered with Operation: Military Kids to offer the program several years ago. In its first year, about 150 backpacks were distributed to military children statewide. Today nearly 700 backpacks are distributed throughout Missouri. And since 2004 Hero Packs have been presented to over 47,000 military youth nationwide.
This year about 150 backpacks were filled for Missouri Department of American Legion's District 14 alone, which includes posts in Sikeston, New Madrid, Benton, Dexter, Charleston, Chaffee, Caruthersville, Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau.
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