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Statesboro-area churches help children, families prepare for school
W School Supplies

    In less than a month, yellow buses will resume their routes and the first bell will ring for the new school year.
 Sadly, many kids across Bulloch County will not be prepared for that first day. Several local churches hope to alleviate that burden for families with various back-to-school opportunities.
    On Saturday, the Original First African Baptist Church will sponsor a Back-to-School Extravaganza at the old Julia P. Bryant School from
9 a.m. to noon. Families can select new and gently used clothing items and shoes in all sizes, from infants to adults.
    This is the second year the church has offered a giveaway of this magnitude. Carolyn Milton, a member of the church’s Outreach Committee, said the event has outgrown last year’s venue, Love Cultural Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
    “People waited in a long line outside, just to get in,” said Milton of last year’s successful event.
    She said the committee, led by Juanita Allen, associate pastor of outreach ministry, anticipates an even larger crowd this year and looks forward to serving the community in a place that can accommodate more people.
    Most of the items have been donated by church members and supporters.
    “It’s community helping community,” Milton said. “Families today facing economic struggles find it more and more difficult to provide all the clothing that their children need for another school year.”
    Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro and Magnolia Missionary Baptist Church plan to have extra school supplies to share with the children having lunch at Rebecca’s Café on Tuesday, also at the old Julia P. school.
    The two congregations are partnering to serve the meal that day and look forward to providing those in attendance with much-needed school supplies.
    On Saturday, July 19, the children’s ministry of First United Methodist Church will host the weekly soup kitchen event, served from noon until 1 p.m. at the church. Children attending that day will receive school supply bundles containing many of the necessary tools for starting a new school year.
    Two churches, Believers Church on Harville Road and Statesboro First Baptist Church on North Main Street, will give book bags and supplies to students who need assistance.
    Saturday, July 19, from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., volunteers from Believers Church will give book bags filled with school supplies to the first 500 kids entering grades kindergarten through eight. This is the sixth year the church has hosted the event on its campus.
    Attendees will also have the opportunity to jump and play in large inflatables, check out the inside of a helicopter, get a close-up look at a fire engine, listen to music, snack on goodies, play games or complete identification cards with the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office’s DARE initiative.
    Outreach Pastor Mike Oglesby said of the event: “Many people perceive churches as always asking for money, but at Believers Church, we like to give back into the community by doing random acts of kindness. We want to help students by blessing them with a bookbag and supplies. This is just a practical way of showing the love of God, no strings attached.”
    Statesboro First Baptist Church’s Women’s Ministry plans to distribute book bags with supplies to children on Saturday, July 26, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Perry Fellowship Hall.
    Deb Hagan, Women’s Ministry coordinator, said the event is called “Packed-N-Ready.”
    “Jesus Christ loved children and wants us to do the same,” Hagan said. “We believe it is our responsibility to be His hands and feet in our community. We are so excited to not only meet a need, but to also give them a hug and show them we care on the day they pick up their backpack.”
    Compassion Christian Church, which formerly met on Sundays in the Mill Creek Elementary School auditorium, has targeted children and teachers of that school for its “Fill the Bus” campaign.
    Harrison Huxford, a pastor at Compassion Christian, said: “Teachers spend so much out-of-pocket for children who might not have adequate supplies. We want to show our appreciation to the teachers so that they can effectively support and teach their students.”
    On two Sundays, July 20 and July 27, members and visitors are encouraged to bring school supplies to the church service at its new location, 410 S. Zetterower Ave., or drop them off at the church office.
    St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church and Trinity Episcopal Church are collecting school supply donations throughout the month of July to support Prevent Child Abuse Bulloch County’s “Stuff the Bus” program. To contribute, call either church for more information.

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