Backpack giveaway

Wendy Oliver hands off a blue backpack filled with school supplies to a man in a truck Sunday afternoon at the 12th Street Community Center as part of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association KS-21-1 annual bookbag giveaway.

Sunday afternoon, cars were lined up down the street at the 12th Street Community Center.

They were there to receive book bags of school supplies provided by a Junction City-based organization.

The book bags, which were stuffed with school supplies, were from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter KS 21-1’s third annual back to school book bag giveaway.

Auxiliary Member Anjie Frantz organized the yearly event.

She said it was their way of giving back to the community while showing community members that “bikes are not bad.”

Motorcycle associations and people who enjoy riding motorcycles sometimes have a less-than-stellar reputation, something Frantz and other participants in the giveaway are determined to change.

“It’s just to give back to the community,” she said. "To show the community that we are here too. We’re veterans helping veterans — that’s what we do. We all have families, we all care and we want the community to know that we’re here to support them. It’s what we do, it’s how we help."

The group had 151 book bags to hand out to community members. The event started at 1 p.m. and by about 1:30 p.m., roughly three quarters of the book bags had been given away.

Frantz said the bags were each stuffed with necessary supplies. She said about $25 went into each book bag, including the backpack itself.

“It’s at least enough to get them through the first day of school,” Frantz said.

The group had help from local Kiwanis members, “but most of it came from the veterans here,” she said.

According to Frantz, it seemed like there were more people who showed up for a backpack this year, possibly because the COVID-19 pandemic has increased need in the community.

“We’ve had more, probably, this year than last year,” she said. “Everybody’s so grateful, they’re so polite and the kids get happy to see the bikes. And it makes us happy."

Though United Way of Junction City/Geary County does Stuff the Bus and adopt-a-backpack each year, which has a similar purpose, Frantz said it’s important for their group to help out as well. People can’t always make it to the United Way giveaways, she said. Holding the event on a Sunday helps them catch a different crowd, Frantz feels.

It’s an important project to her and other participants.

“We all support this town,” Frantz said. “It’s our home.”

The annual giveaway was a drive-thru this year due to COVID-19 concerns, but normally it’s a chance for the children to have fun and explore the motorcycles, Frantz said. The event, which usually happens at the armory, typically allows children to check out members’ bikes and even sit on them. They have a chance to talk to the veterans and learn about the motorcycles.

It’s helpful in more ways than one, Frantz said, because the children have a good time while their families receive what they need to help their children through the first semester of school. The event went on, in part, she said, because they didn’t want community members to think members forgot about them.

“It’s something they can carry with them all year long and see that bikers, in general, are not bad,” she said. “We’re a family. Junction City is our home. Our chapter — 21-1 — is based out of Junction City.”

Every member of the association is either ex-military, active duty military, or, in the case of auxiliary members, a spouse. Their membership includes people with all kinds of military experience, people who have been deployed and seen some form of combat.

At Christmastime, the group also gathers gifts for veterans in retirement homes.

Chapter Commander Dale Frantz added, “we’re motorcycle enthusiasts who have a like-minded idea of veterans helping veterans."

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