COPPERAS COVE — Preteen Miss Five Hills Kaydence Roberts, daughter of Staff Sgt. Devon Roberts, 1st Cavalry Division, loves animals. Even though she is allergic and breaks out into a rash whenever she is around animals, that does not stop the 13-year old from volunteering at the city’s animal shelter during weekends and school breaks to help the pets find their forever homes. 

In addition to rolling up her sleeves to clean cages, wash towels and walk the animals, Roberts is also an avid fundraiser for the shelter hosting an annual dog walk and costume contest and securing a $1,000 grant from the Fort Hood Area Thrift Shop for the fifth consecutive year.

“This donation will allow the animal shelter to house more animals so military families, especially, can adopt or even drop off animals that they cannot travel with or bring to their next duty stations,” Roberts said. “The grant will also help keep our community free of stray cats and abandoned dogs, therefore improving the quality of life in our community, which includes many military retirees.”

Miss Five Hills Emerald Bentley, spouse of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Bentley, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cav. Brigade, 1st Cav. Div., is dedicated to helping mothers in-need, especially military spouses, with birth and postpartum support. She hosted Copperas Cove’s Inaugural Baby Expo to raise money for the cause and also secured a $1,000 Fort Hood Thrift Shop grant for the charity, Grace for Mothers.

“There is a great need in our area because of our extensive military community,” Bentley said. “Many are scared to give birth alone or transition home without their spouse. We help them feel loved and cared for while helping celebrate this amazing life event.”

Senior Ms. Five Hills Donna Higgins is married to a military retiree. She secured a $600 grant for the Holy Family Catholic Church’s My Brother’s House Food Pantry. The COVID-19 pandemic forced an allocation change for the grant award.

“The grant was written to help fund for a new commercial freezer, but times changed and the most important thing now is to pay for food. They have had an increased need for food with so many losing their jobs. Holy Family Catholic Church has an offering collection the first of every month that supports the food pantry. The need to suspend church services severely cut funds for April,” Higgins said. “The Thrift Store understands this need and the funds are being used to keep the panty running by buying food from Austin food banks.”

Thanks to a Department of Defense Education Activity grant awarded to Copperas Cove ISD, junior high students and their families were able to receive instruction in computer coding, one of the most in-demand careers in today’s job market. Both Copperas Cove Junior High and S. C. Lee Junior High received $1,000 grants each to give students access to coding clubs, makerspace labs and family coding nights.

Tori Noon, CCISD DoDEA director, said the goal is to increase the academic aptitude of military-connected students, especially as they are the most transient students in Texas, as their active-duty parents receive orders for permanent changes of station or extended deployments.

“It is our job to provide this community of students and families with the most innovative and challenging courses and programs that will prepare them for success in college and in the workforce,” Noon said. “Funds will be used to purchase materials to support family coding nights, computer science/STEM field trips, robotics teams and coding lab supplies.”