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Volunteers organize backpacks
Sandia Associate Laboratories Director Dori Ellis talks to Operation Backpack volunteers before loading the backpacks into vans.
Adina Eliassian loads van with backpacks
Sandia employee Adina Eliassian loads a van bound for one of three San Francisco’s Bay Area military bases.

For the fifth year in a row, Sandia National Laboratories in California has rallied to give children of local military families a stellar start to the school year. The lab’s Operation Backpack team initially aimed to collect 150 backpacks filled with school supplies, but donors surpassed that number with a total of 202.

The back-to-school season can be stressful and costly for any family, but can be especially trying for military families with a deployed family member or single-earner households. By providing school supplies, Operation Backpack volunteers hope to alleviate some of the stress and let military families know that they are supported by Sandia.

“This year’s Operation Backpack has been stunningly successful,” said Sandia Associate Laboratories Director Dori Ellis. “The generosity of the whole division, including Carlsbad and Albuquerque, has been beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.”

Dori Ellis loads van with backpacks
Sandia Associate Laboratories Director Dori Ellis and Sandia employee Rachael Gupta help load up a van with backpacks donated by Sandia team members.

Operation Backpack started as a small giving drive and has now grown throughout Sandia’s network of sites.

Excitement for the program was so high that Sandia team members donated extra backpacks to be used by local military bases for students who transfer in the middle of the school year. The backpacks were delivered to the family centers at Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, Travis Air Force Base, and Moffett Federal Airfield.

The program also receives significant support from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Veterans in Energy, Technology, and Science group.

Children with backpacks
Happy children walk away from a backpack delivery at Camp Parks in Dublin, California.