By Brandon Martin
Parents and children will have two opportunities to register to participate in the annual Back2School event, which will be held Aug. 1.
The first registration is set for July 11 from 9 a.m. to noon; a second is scheduled to be held July 21, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Both will be offered at several churches, including The Community Fellowship, First Baptist Ridgeway, Mercy Crossing, Albert Harris Elementary School, Fairway Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Kearfott Memorial Baptist Church, and Stanleytown Amazing Grace Baptist Church.
Because of the pandemic, the registration process differs from past years, according to Michael Harrison, lead pastor at The Community Fellowship in Collinsville, which helps to organize the Back2School event.
This year, Harrison said the registration process will be touchless and similar to a “drive-thru.” He explained that parents or guardians will drive up and provide the necessary information to a volunteer. Then, the parent/guardian will go through the process of measuring the child’s feet to get an accurate shoe size. He added youngsters must be present during registration.
Youngsters participating in the event will receive new socks, shoes, backpacks and school supplies on Aug. 1, he said.
In addition, registered youngsters also will receive a personalized facemask, Harrison said, adding that the masks are homemade and provided by partners like Stanleytown Amazing Grace Baptist Church.
In the past, volunteers set up outside of local hotspot shopping areas to collect items for the Back2School event, Harrison said. The coronavirus pandemic also stymied that effort this year. Instead, Harrison said that volunteers and the participating churches “really stepped up,” with additional purchases and donations to hit the goal and help 4,000 students.
Additionally, four churches are participating for the first time this year: Peaceful Baptist Church, Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, Hillcrest Baptist Church, and Stanleytown Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Harrison said.
Among the other churches also participating this year are Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, Life Fellowship, Marble Hill Church of God, Mayodan-The Refuge, Mercy Church, Peaceful Baptist Church, Prillaman Baptist and Wellford Baptist Church.
Over the last 14 years, the program helped an estimated 22,000 children, courtesy of donations from local churches, Harrison said. This year, he added that the program is even more important.
“Our students need to hear that they are important and that there is hope,” Harrison said. “I’m excited about our new partners and I’m excited to still serve the community in such uncertain times.”