By SHANNON WATKINS
Dublin’s Heritage Church will hold its annual Back to School Bash this Saturday, where it’s expected to help more students than ever.
The program, which church member Andrew Stump estimates is in its seventh year, exists to distribute free back to school supplies to kids from kindergarten through grade 12.
“We spend money on the good stuff,” Stump said. “They don’t get a bunch of junk.” Heritage Church also distributes clothing, backpacks and even offers free haircuts, given by qualified church members and stylists from local salons. Last year, he says, 55 haircuts were given free of charge, and even more are anticipated this year.
The event has grown overall, according to Stump. The first year saw 178 kids helped out, and, he noted, “Every year after that it seemed to get bigger.” The first back to school program helped 178 kids; last year’s helped 762.
This year the church is looking for even more to show. “We’re spending about $4,500 on school supplies,” Stump said. “We ordered backpacks, we have about 850.” He said members of the public are free to donate school supplies before the event and to volunteer their time helping out during it.
Along with the distribution, said Stump, the church tries to make it a fun event for the children. “We send ‘em in the sanctuary and play cartoons and stuff for the kids,” he said. “We’ve had Sno-Cones and cotton candy,” and plans to have refreshments this year as well.
People have a lot of questions, he said, the first being, “’Do I have to bring my kids? Do I have to bring IDs?’ No. Just come and sign in and tell us the number of kids in your family.”
Another pertinent question is whether or not people have to be church members to come get supplies. “No. No way,” he said firmly. Stump and the church see it as a service for all.
The program came about when, Stump said, “God laid it on my heart I was going to do some kind of outreach.” About 4 a.m. one morning he figured out it was helping get school supplies for kids, called his pastor later on and talked about it and the project grew from there. Stump doesn’t like to take credit for it, though. “Give God all the glory. It’s His project, we’re just glad to do it.”
Heritage Church’s Back to School Bash will be held on Saturday, August 10 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Heritage Church is located at 6195 Cleburne Blvd. in Dublin; for more information call (540) 674-9220 or visit www.heritagechurch.net.