This Sunday, July 30, Christ United Methodist Church in Halls Crossroads will throw a party with one purpose: to serve children and families in need. The Back2School Bash will be held 2:30-6 p.m. on the church grounds, and will offer bags of school supplies, free haircuts and snacks to kids going back to school. There will also be bounce houses, music and fun activities.
Church member Bobby Stair is heading this year’s effort. The church held the first Back2School Bash in 2016 under the leadership of associate pastor the Rev. Ashley Helton. As the church has undergone a change of leadership, Stair was asked to be caretaker of the program until new associate pastor the Rev. Megan Boatwright can take it on.
Stair said that the church supports foreign missions, but a sermon by Bishop James Swanson called them start ministry “in the shadows of the steeples of your churches.”
“The focus is to try to be more so in this community,” said Stair. “Where can we most show God’s love? We’ve been very blessed here. Now it’s our job to bless others as Christ loved us. We want to serve the Lord in this community.”
Last year, the church gave out 300 bags of school supplies to students and 200 bags to teachers. This year, the church’s women’s group is distributing teacher supplies straight to local schools. The Back2School Bash will focus on students, and volunteers are prepping 450 bags of supplies. Organizers got school supply lists from several local schools and tailored requested donations to the items found on most lists. Bags will also be customized for the needs of elementary, middle and high school students.
“A high schooler probably doesn’t need crayons,” said Stair.
The fellowship hall will host 30 professional hair stylists offering free haircuts to kids. That’s a huge increase over the 11 hair stylists on hand for last year’s event. Church members donated school supplies or made monetary donations, and many local businesses donated school supplies, too.
Stair said the event addresses the real-world needs of local families. He recalled a family that came to the first Back2School Bash, a couple with four children. Both the parents worked, but money was often tight. To get haircuts for all the kids would cost $60. The mother said she could stagger the haircuts over several weeks or get them all haircuts at once and give up food money for the family for a day.
“She said, ‘You make decisions like that, whether you’re going to eat or whether you’re going to get haircuts. All my kids are getting haircuts today.’ And then she started crying,” said Stair.
Stair thanked everyone who has donated or volunteered their time, including committee chairs Cheryl Massey, Terry Jackson, David Morris, Kaileigh Lakin, Jan Miller, Kaci Massengill, Larry Estep, Shamara Estep, Pam McPherson, Lisa Collier, John McPherson, Don Jackson, Terry Keck, Vicki Clair, Dennis Lakin, Karen Woods and Barb Knowlton.
He gave a special shout-out to Kaileigh Lakin, who has gathered donated door prizes for the kids, like movie tickets and Dollywood passes. Every child who registers and receives a bag of supplies will receive a numbered ticket, and prizes will be drawn throughout the day.
“They get a chance to leave here with something special just for them,” said Stair.
The Rev. David Tabor will be on-site in case anyone would like to speak with a pastor.
“But the main thing is we want everybody to feel welcome, like they could have a place here if they want it,” said Stair.
For more information, visit the church’s Facebook page.