The education wing of the Pleasant Branch Baptist Church buzzed with activity as volunteers in bright yellow shirts helped children and parents gather backpacks, school supplies and get haircuts.

Tim Ester of the Pine Street Community Backpack Program said approximately 600 children received services Saturday during the event. In 2008, the group gave away approximately 300 backpacks.

"We gathered items for 450 children," Ester said, noting that volunteers continued to fill backpacks with items as they day progressed. 

In addition to getting a backpack with school supplies, the children also were offered hair cuts and styles with Studio Genesis, mentoring and lunch. 

"We have people cooking hamburgers and hot dogs outside," Ester said.

To man the event, Ester said 50 volunteers had shown up to help. 

"We have 50 volunteers and numerous donations. People are stepping up to take care of all these kids," Ester said. 

He estimated there would be surplus of supplies that would be donated to local schools. 

"It is overwhelming," he said. "The Conway community has been unbelievable."

Two of the children who received backpacks said they received some good items. Courtlyn Kaiser, who will be entering the second grade at Woodrow Cummins Elementary School, said he got a pen and some glue that would help him with school. Kam Ron Kaiser, who will be in first grade at Woodrow Cummins, said he received pencils and markers to get him ready to go back to school.

The distribution began at 11 a.m., however, at 10:30, Ester said the line stretched around the parking lot. 

"They had to wait in line a little bit, but it was something worth waiting in line for," Ester said.

In addition to the backpacks given to the children, Studio Genesis stylists gave more than 120 hair cuts and styles. Tammy Dixon of Studio Genesis said it was a busy day for her stylists. Stylists did hair cuts, styles and braids. 

Children could also talk to mentors, who Ester described as sports figures, educators, parents and psychologists.

Event sponsors included Centennial Bank, Stoby’s, Kroger, Kohls and Frito Lay. 

Although Ester went to bed at 2 a.m. Saturday and was up and ready to work again on the backpack event at 6 a.m., he said he was looking forward to making the 2010 event bigger.

"It is a lot of work, but a lot is done to help a lot of people," he said.