On Aug. 8, 200 children will be able to get free backpacks and school supplies at the Holland Free Methodist Church.
From 5 to 8 p.m. at 6605 Angola Rd. in Holland, church members will hand out backpacks filled with folders, spiral notebooks, pencils, erasers, and other essentials on a first-come, first-served basis.
"Anyone is welcome to come, and there are no strings attached," said Christy Winckles, a member of Holland Free Methodist who is organizing the event. "My goal is for us to run out of school supplies because so many people come who need them."
After picking up their new gear, the children can amuse themselves with craft projects, manicures, face painting, and an inflatable bouncy house.
The church will also serve dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Hot dogs, carrots, popcorn, and pretzels are on the menu for this year.
"We try to make it a fun evening where families can do things together and just relax a little bit," Ms. Winckles said.
The program, which started last year, is back by popular demand.
"We had a great response last year. The parents are really grateful," she said. "Most of the people that come are families in the area who are struggling economically to get these basic things for their kids."
"Obviously these are tough economic times and families do struggle," said Michael O'Shea, assistant superintendent of Springfield Local Schools. "We recognize there might be some students who would have difficulties securing back-to-school supplies, and we support this effort to help out."
Last year the event reached 120 children from preschool to sixth grade. "We're extending it to eighth grade this year," Ms. Winckles said.
She said she was inspired by a similar project at a church in Jackson, Mich., which reaches 500 children each year.
She hopes Holland Free Methodist's program will continue to grow.
"I would love to have 500 students come and get supplies in three years or so," she said. "There are so many kids in need."
Contact Sophie Broach at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6210.