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Saddleback San Clemente backpacksSaddleback Church San Clemente is partnering with the local community to provide backpacks and school supplies to children of Camp Pendleton families. The goal of Operation Backpack is to fill 800 backpacks with the help of the community to be handed out at “Bounce Back to School,” a party held at San Onofre School on Aug. 5 that will feature inflatables, carnival games, music and food provided by Chick-Fil-A.

“This program means everything to me,” said Christine Gonzalez, wife of Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Gonzalez and mother of four. Gonzalez heard about Operation Backpack six years ago, when it first started.

Gonzalez has since become involved with Saddleback Church San Clemente’s Military Ministry which hosts a handful of other events to support the families of Camp Pendleton, including quarterly baby showers, barbecues for those with post traumatic stress disorder, beach day parties and portraits for families about to be deployed.

“To a civilian a little backpack may seem miniscule,” said Gonzalez, “But to have a child who may have a parent who is deployed, it means everything to have someone else offer their help.” Gonzalez spoke from experience. Her husband has been deployed six times in the last eight years and is currently stationed at Twentynine Palms and only with family once a week.

Providing a unique opportunity to offer a helping hand to military families, Operation Backpack seeks to provide school supplies to every student at San Onofre School. In order to help Operation Backpack, purchase a $25 backpack at Saddleback Church San Clemente any Sunday until July 27. The cost of the backpack includes a reusable water bottle, lunch bag and the funds to support the Bounce Back to School Event. Additional volunteers are welcome to help organize backpacks on Aug. 4 in preparation for the Bounce Back to School event.

To learn more about donations or volunteering, email or visit


From the desk of Alex Murashko.