Back-to-School Bash Ministry set for this weekend

Published 2:10 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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By Angela Cutrer
Star correspondent
Harmony Freewill Baptist Church’s annual Back-to-School Bash Ministry is set for July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hampton High School. And this year’s event is planned to be even bigger than before.
The event is known for its all-encompassing attempt to have families enjoy as well as benefit from community support. In order to do that, the community comes together to donate school supplies for students pre-K to 12th grade and pack them in brand-new backpacks.
It’s not just the church members who come out in support, but many local businesses have opened their doors to donating to the event. That means that school supplies are not the only things children will find in their new backpacks – this year plans are to include common underclothes and shoes.
“Every kid that shows up walks away with a backpack,” the church’s pastor Brandon Young said. However, the mission of the bash has expanded so that all students get started on the new school year on the right foot. Literally. Not only did the ministry gather new shirts, socks and underwear, but also gently used shoes and supplies to fill the 2,000 backpacks the event will hand out.
The ministry will be hosting its free annual event so that students can get all they need to begin school, while also having a great time with others.
The director of the bash, Shannon Podada, said the committee has activities galore for the families, including a petting zoo and water balloon war.
“Our theme this year is ‘Better Together,’” she said. “We can do so much more together than we can do apart. We expect between 3,000 to 4,000 people to attend and we’ll have all kinds of activities.” She added they’ll have an even wider range of animals for the petting zoo, more tractors for the kids to enjoy and fun treats like funnel cakes, popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones.
“It’s so much fun,” Podada added. “We have hot dogs, Kool-Aid and Little Debbie cakes. We are so blessed to be able to do this event. It’s a ‘Christmas in July’ and a chance to give back to others. We are so lucky to have the community we have and the businesses that help us with this event.
“It’s wonderful to see the little kids’ smiles and we love that we can help them have a good start for the new year. It’s hard times for everyone, everywhere, and this event is so worth the work that goes into it. You can see the stress come off the parents when they see all the supplies they don’t need to worry about getting.
“We might just be a little church in the country, but the good Lord has blessed us,” Podada said with a laugh, thankful that blessings continue to flow in order to help out the most needy in the area.

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