Back to School Bash church reflects on growth of program over past decade

With the Back to School Bash now incorporating shuttle services using Carter County buses from four different schools, as well as vaccinations from the Carter County Health Department, Pastor Brandon Young said the program’s continued growth is overwhelming.

“It is overwhelming how God has blessed this,” Young said. “It is not about us. It is about lifting up what Jesus is.”

Young is pastor of Harmony Freewill Baptist Church, the host of the Back to School Bash ministry for the past 11 years. Since the program started, the program has grown from a single-church endeavor to incorporating the bulk of Carter County itself.

The bash itself, which always takes place on the last Saturday of July, brings in thousands of children and parents each year.

“We raise $25,000 for all 11 years,” he said.

This level of support and success, he said, comes in part from his church community.

“I have one of the most giving churches in this area,” he said. “Anything I bring to them, they have never turned me down.”

He said several churches and businesses have stepped up to lend dedicated financial support each year, and Harmony itself hosts between six and eight fundraisers a year in order to meet the $25,000 goal.

“If I had a vision, I pray we find 20 churches dedicated to this ministry,” Young said.

With those 20, he said the $25,000 would come from those dedicated contributions, and the need for the multiple fundraisers would decrease, easing the workload from his congregation.

“The hardest part is doing the fundraisers every year,” he said. “It is a lot of work to ask for your church.”

Despite that workload, Young said the bash is a success every year, bringing families from across the county.

“We want every child to be able to come and have a wonderful day before the school year and not worry about the money,” Young said.

For those looking to volunteer more than financially to the bash, Young said Harmony is hosting a volunteer training session at 7 p.m. Friday, July 26. Those who attend can buy a staff T-shirt for $10, a cost that will go towards the bash. The training will take roughly 45 minutes.

“They can come by and sign up to be a volunteer,” Young said.

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