Back to School Bash ministry set for July 30

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2022

By Angela Cutrer
The end of July brings the “Back to School Bash,” a ministry of Harmony Freewill Baptist Church that provides area students with a backpack full of free, age-appropriate school supplies.
“We want to take the burden off of families, who are already dealing with so much,” said Director Shannon Posada. “There’s going to be free food, inflatables, water wars, cotton candy, desserts, a petting zoo, muscle cars and games. There is something for everyone.”
This is the 14th year for the event, which began when Harmony Freewill Baptist Church’s pastor, Brandon Young, said he had a dream of helping children with school supplies. Since then, the project has only grown.
“We give out about 1,500 backpacks,” Posada said. “We are expecting 3,000 to 4,000 people this year. We’ll have gently used clothes and shoes for the kids and they can stay all day and have fun.”
Young said the event is more than about a backpack. “It’s a fun-filled day for families to come together and forget their worries and cares and bills,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this. It’s a day filled with fun for families that’s free. A lot of people don’t have the money to go to Dollywood or such places. [During this event], kids have a blast playing all day with those who care for them, having fun and enjoying being with each other.”
Posada, who works with the local animal shelter, said it’s been a blessing for her to be a part of this event, which she calls her “Christmas in July.”
“To me, this is my favorite time of year because we get to give back,” she said. “We usually have 50 to 60 volunteers who help us, and this year, I’ve seen the largest need in our community.
“COVID-19 was rough and supplies limited, but this year, our community will help provide. And God above provides. There has never been a kid who went home [from this event] without a backpack, something to eat and maybe some hope.”
Posada said she enjoys visiting with the children who return year after year. “I can watch them grow,” she said. “The kids are so thankful and the community’s help — we couldn’t do it without them. This all gives the kids encouragement and a feeling of being loved. This is a chance for the kids to come out and have a good day.”
She added that she believes that if you want to see a difference, you have to be a difference. “We want to impact these kids,” she said. “We want them to know they are loved. Area churches come together to help us with this because it’s important that these kids know they are loved. No matter the home life, there is someone who cares and can help.”
Young said on his church’s website that the group does not try to teach the children any church doctrine, just a simple message that Jesus loves them, which goes well with this year’s theme: “Compassion in Action.”
“It’s a great event,” Young said of the event. “What’s going on with our country’s economy means the need is much greater than years’ past. We want to assist families with some basic needs. We know there are other things they’ll need to buy, but at least this will give them a foundation to build on.
“It would not be possible without the support of the businesses, churches and volunteers who help us. I mean, trying to raise $25,000 every year is tough, but people step forward and assist with that. We have a great community, and even though we are still short of funds, it’ll be OK. It always is.”
This year honors LD and Susie Berry. The event is planned for Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hampton High School. No proof of income is necessary.

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