Hundreds attend area backpack events

Four Yukon-area churches came to the rescue of more than 1,000 children over the weekend.

Trinity Baptist Church’s efforts to provide back-to-school supplies proved to be a huge success, with more than 400 backpacks given away in about 3 ½ hours Saturday.

Scott Kinney, the associate pastor, said more than 100 people were lined up for the annual back-to-school event at about 8:15 a.m. That was more than 45 minutes before the drive was to set to begin.

They opened the doors early, allowing the lines to begin weaving their way through the building.

By 11 a.m., more than 400 children had already made their way through the lines, grabbing glue sticks, paper, pencils and crayons.

Each child also received a new backpack in which to carry their supplies.

Kinney said it was the church’s goal to provide at least 500 backpacks.

He made his comment as people continued to trickle into the building.

Yukon students as well as those at Southwest Covenant return to class Aug. 16. St. John Catholic School begins a few days earlier.

“A lot of people who really need this wanted to get here early and take advantage of the program,” Kinney said. “It’s been a great event.”

Kinney said this is about the 10th year for the event.

“We want to minister to our community. God has a heart for people in need, and we want to minister to them,” he said.

Kinney called it missional evangelism.

“We can help people with their basic needs, but while they are here, we pray for them,” he said.

Kinney said there are needs that can be met, and they aren’t all financial.

Attending Saturday’s event were people who were going through marital strife, those who had just moved to the community and were in need of social help, and one small child who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

“This is where people come for a friendly face, a welcoming atmosphere. We want them to come here, but it is not a prerequisite. We want to help people physically and spiritually,” Kinney said.

Meanwhile, the Good Fight Church teamed this year with Passion Church and Grit Church for a Sunday evening giveaway of more than 600 backpacks, 800 hotdogs and dozens of haircuts.

Sunday’s three-hour event drew lines that wrapped around the church building on East Main Street. It was much like a Black Friday sale.

“It is absolutely insane,” Youth Minister Josh Laughter said.

Laughter, who spearheaded the event, said more than 2,000 people passed through the church’s doors to take advantage of the offer of free school supplies.

The church had planned to give away 625 backpacks. The total given away was just under 600, said minister John Phipps.

In addition to the school supplies, three local stylists donated their time to give haircuts.

There was a line waiting to get into the barber’s chairs.

“At the end of the day, there are people in need. If a family of five had to buy backpacks, that would be  $500. That is a house payment, and trying to come up with that much money at the beginning of the year is difficult,” Laughter said.

Kyle Woodall, the family pastor, said the project brings the community together.

“That’s the main thing for me. It shows we are not just here as a church, but as a community,” he said.

For Venessea Gilbert, the school supply event was a blessing.

Gilbert has six children attending area schools.

“It’s not cheap. They are providing their needs. The school supply lists are insanely long. We can’t afford it all with that many kids,” she said.

The youngest child is nine. The oldest is 16. She also has four children attending college.

“This just blesses our family. They get a great haircut and they look good for school. That’s something we can’t always provide,” she said.

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