Team MacDill gears up for first day of school Published Aug. 2, 2016 By Staff Sgt. Shandresha Mitchell 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- “The Back to School Fair is an annual, base-wide Military Child Education Resource Fair that offers program information and school resources, along with free backpacks and school supplies, to military families with school age children,” said Nelly Richards, the School Liaison Officer assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron (FSS). The fair offers military families an opportunity to network and get a jump start in gathering the many needed school supplies before school starts. “We want to offer our military families quality-of-life initiatives that would make their transition and time at MacDill worthwhile and as stress free as possible,” said Richards. “We want them to feel a part of a supportive military community and take any stressors off the shoulders of our military workforce that would prevent their families from successfully adapting in the MacDill community.” Along with back to school resources, families enjoyed four hours of fun, food, music, magic tricks, and giveaways all made possible by the 6th FSS, United Service Organization, sponsoring agencies and the volunteer support from across the installation. “Our military children are unique in society because they…have parents that are deployed for extended periods of time, and move from country to country or state to state,” said Master Sgt. Widlene Harrell, J1 superintendent assigned to Special Operations Command Central, and participant in this year’s event. “This is a great way to support our military families and our military children.” In addition to having access to a variety of community resources, children had the opportunity to participate in an anti-bullying workshop. The goal was to help them identify and prevent early signs of bullying in their schools, community and cyberspace. “I love the anti-bullying workshop they are conducting,” said Harrell. “Being that our military children move around a lot and often have to change schools and meet new friends, they sometimes encounter hardships in the form of bullying, so it’s great to see that the base understands our military families’ needs.” Last year, the fair gathered approximately 1,400 military families and children. This year's participation was higher than last year’s, boasting more than 2,000 in attendance and with an expectation of more to come next year. For more information on future events or to leave feedback on this year’s event please contact Nellie Richards at 813-828-0146 or Susan Long at 813-828-5971.