On the first day of school, more than 500 children will walk into the classroom with brand new book bags and supplies, compliments of Believers Church of Statesboro.
“We believe in ‘Serve-It Evangelism,’” Outreach Pastor Mike Oglesby said of the program. “We wanted to give back to the community; we saw a need we could meet.”
On an overcast Saturday morning that threatened yet again more rain, Believers held their fifth annual Back-to-School Bash on the church’s campus. Pastor Scott Moore greeted and directed families to a registration line, a line that snaked around like one might see at Disney World.
“People were in the parking lot by 7:30,” Oglesby said. “We actually opened the line 10 minutes early because of the weather.
“We opened with prayer and prayed that God would hold back the rain. Sure enough, at 11 o’clock when we were closing up, the rain came.”
Children, dressed in new school outfits and sneakers, waited patiently with their moms and dads. After filling out cards with contact information so the families could be invited to church, boys and girls moved on to the book bag tent.
The kids’ eyes lit up as they approached the table with stacks and stacks of book bags in every color. Beaming, most kids handled the book bags as if they were precious jewels and smiled broadly as they finally decided upon a color.
Children, parents and grandparents were very appreciative of the donations. One child said, with a huge grin: “I thank God I got this book bag. Thanks for doing this.” Another added, “I like getting a new book bag. Thanks for giving it to me.”
A mother, who declined to be identified, said, “I am raising two extra kids that aren’t mine, and I want them to have a good start in school. This really helps us out.”
Taylor Mobly Jr., who said his kids woke up excited about the event, commented: “This is a great idea for the kids. Things are high today, so this is good for everybody. With three little girls, this is going to be a big help.”
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson attended the event after reading about it in the newspaper.
“We live in a very caring community, and the backpack giveaway event by Believers Church is a great example of that,” Wilson said. “Their outreach efforts align with the school system’s initiatives to remove barriers to students’ preparation for school, so that their chances to succeed are better. Working together is what it takes to excel, so whenever possible, we like to reach out and thank those making that happen.”
Children and parents stood in the DARE line to complete identification cards, provided by the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, while others munched on honey buns or snow cones.
Some listened to Christian music, provided by a local youth band, Won By One, blaring over loudspeakers; some stood near the dunking booth or played in the bounce house, and others got a close-up look at a fire engine.
Money to purchase the book bags and supplies – bags contained folders, notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, note cards, rulers, erasers and pens – came from congregation donations and Vacation Bible School participants.
“During VBS, the children brought in pennies towards the book bags,” Oglesby said. “We had a penny war between teams, and they brought in $1,000 in pennies.”
Just before the giveaway time ended, another small crowd of children entered the registration line.
“People go home and call their friends and more come,” Moore said. “Even in our fifth year, I’m amazed at how we never seem to run out of bags. God always orchestrates it, and we always have the right amount of book bags for the children.”