MILWAUKEE (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) gave back to Milwaukee’s youth by helping the United Way at their brand-new Johnson Controls Volunteer Center facility, Aug. 8.
The Sailors volunteered their time by providing the muscle to help load and deliver more than 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies to multiple schools throughout the Milwaukee metro area.
“I’m excited that our kids are going to be ready to go on the first day of school,” said Dr. Zannetta Walker, principal of Auer Avenue Elementary School. “The partnership between the Navy and United Way means the world to us and our community. I’m an ex-Navy spouse and prior command ombudsman so it’s fantastic and easy for me to see how much of an influence something like this can have on our neighborhood and our district, as well as our country.”
Outfitted in service dress whites, Sailors from the various commands passed backpacks back and forth in a human chain, reminiscent of a Navy-style working party, during the warm Milwaukee summer morning. Many in attendance felt lucky to be part of an experience that was larger than themselves.
“It’s very humbling to be out here in the community doing what we can to help out during Navy Week,” said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Rebecca Leicht, assigned to Milwaukee. “Getting to know the city that we represent and collaborating with them to ease the burden on its students and teachers is one of the best ways we can think of to give back and we’re all very fortunate to be able to be here.”
The Sailors and two cargo vans, filled to the brim with colorful, fully-stocked backpacks, split up upon leaving the volunteer center to make their deliveries before the start of the school year. Now in its third year, the Milwaukee United Way’s Backpack Coalition helps to ensure that every child succeeds in school.
“We’re really thankful that Milwaukee was selected as one of the cities to host a Navy Week,” said Jenn Barnard, manager of volunteer engagement for the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. “Sailors take what they do seriously and the work that they did today helps to spread the culture of volunteerism, creating a snowball effect by those who volunteer as well as those who are impacted, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Milwaukee Navy Week is one of 14 Navy Weeks and consists of events at local businesses, schools, children's clubs and community organizations.
Overseen by the Navy Office of Community Outreach, the Navy Week program is designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that traditionally do not have a naval presence and include community relations projects, speaking engagements, and media interviews with flag hosts and area Sailors.
For more information about Milwaukee Navy Week visit www.outreach.navy.mil/Navy-Weeks/Milwaukee.
Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/navyoutreach and www.twitter.com/navyoutreach.