More than 900 children received backpacks and school supplies Saturday at the Pine Street Backpack Program.
A group of parents and children lined up outside the educational wing of the Pleasant Branch Baptist Church. Inside, organizer Tim Ester used a microphone to call directions to the many volunteers. Once the group was allowed inside, they were moved rapidly through the backpack area and on to the next service. Volunteers worked together like a well-oiled machine, handing out backpacks almost as quickly as the parents could ask for them.
ARcare was on site doing physical examinations for both children and adults. Each child received a voucher for a free haircut at a participating local business. Also, along with the school supplies in the backpacks was information on after-school programs, Conway Interfaith Clinic, and other services. Children and parents were sent off with a sack lunch.
"It’s going great," Ester said. "We served the first 250 in about 25 minutes. It’s really going well."
He said the organizers have the event down to a science.
"We registered 920. We’ll donate to the school after this. We’ll end up doing 1,000," he said.
He continued, "All the volunteers, we’re trying to keep them happy, excited and fed. I can’t name them all — we have a lot of sororities and fraternities, the CBC wrestling team, Kohl’s is here."
This is the seventh year for the event to be held. It has grown from helping 350 children its first year to its current level of about 1,000 each year. The volunteers who keep it going each year do so because they know low-income families can struggle to pay for school supplies.
Ester said, "We have a committee of seven that starts in June getting ready for this. We have the pancake breakfast that helps raise funds. That really helps."
Ester said he enjoys seeing the community come together to make the event happen. He said it’s good for the children because it gives them a week or so before school to go through their backpacks, look at their supplies, and start getting excited about going back to school.
"I like to call it Christmas in August. The kids are so excited," he said.
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)