ROCK HILL — When soldiers deploy overseas, many leave behind families and children who need help coping with the absence of a parent in the military.
To meet that need, volunteers with the Family Readiness Group at Rock Hills U.S. National Guard Armory spent Friday stuffing backpacks with toys and candy and sorting dolls, right, with the faces of military moms and dads preparing for deployment this week.
The 178th Engineer Battalion, which consists of two companies and more than 160 soldiers, will deploy Tuesday to training and eventually to eastern Afghanistan. The battalion will have engineering, construction and route clearance duties.
At a send-off event Sunday, the children will receive the dolls and backpacks, said Anne Cash, group coordinator.
The group also sends care packages to deployed soldiers and provides assistance for families at home.
Many of the soldiers have previously been to deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or both, including the son of Dan Ranucci, who was working quickly among the piles of bags and cardboard boxes at the armory on Friday.
Hes been volunteering ever since his son joined the National Guard.
Every time I find something out, Im there.
At top, Ranucci, from left, Rich Bednarsky and Nancy Leifried fill hero packs.