By Lindsay Starr Platt
On Saturday evening at Yettie Polk Park, City Mission Church hosted a “Back to School Bash” for the community. More than 600 people attended the event, that was timed perfectly for children getting ready to go back to school. The Back to School Bash provided a chance to get free school supplies, backpacks, and information from community resources and businesses.
“This event helped by bringing the community together. Public service departments came and helped out,” said David M. Lowe, pastor, City Mission Church. “We were excited to get Belton Police Department and Chief Ellis to come and connect with attendees. The police department provided bicycles for our raffle. The church can really have an impact and influence on a community. It was a great collaborative effort with our police as well.”
Not only were the school supplies free, but also were refreshments. Over four hundred hot dogs were grilled by church volunteers. Attendees had the chance to eat freshly popped popcorn. Children had sticky fingers from cotton candy. Adults and children alike tried to eat snow-cones before they melted in the heat.
“Pretty awesome when the community comes together to do something for the kids. We are glad to be a part of it,” said Joey Oliveras, marketing coordinator, Lone Star Pediatric Dental. “The kids get to spin the wheel at our booth and win a dental hygiene goody bag.”
Even though the event started at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, attendees started lining up before 4:00 p.m. to secure a chance to get free school supplies. The first 250 attendees in line were given school supplies. People came from as far as Killeen and Salado to attend the event. Attendees were also given raffle tickets for chances to win giveaways.
“I think this is a great opportunity to meet the kids and interact with them and their parents. We want to be here and have a positive relationship with the people we serve,” said Doug Taylor, School Resource Officer, Belton Police Department.
Attendees enjoyed refreshments and a break from the heat at the amphitheater as live music was performed on stage. Also onstage were bicycles and backpacks that were given away to lucky attendees with winning door prize tickets.
“This is fun! There are games and you get school supplies. There is cotton candy and popcorn,” said Ariyanna Jones, age 7, Killeen resident. “It helps with some of the school supplies, so mom and dad don’t have to run around and get them.”
Tents were popped up in the park with local businesses and non-profits that had booths and give away items. Belton Police Department was onsite and provided their popular “Barrel Train” and static display vehicles. A fire truck was on display and available for tours with the Belton Fire Department.
“We are here to serve you. And this is what community is all about. Stay cool, have fun and we will give some bicycles away later, “said Gene Ellis, Chief, Belton Police Department.
Events that promoted physical activity were also popular despite the heat. Belton Christian Youth Center organized a free throw contest at the basketball courts. Texas National Guard gave attendees a chance to climb the portable “rock wall”. Local business Knockerball Cen-Tex was on site with their large inflated balls that can be worn by participants and they roll and bounce on the grass.
“This is wonderful! So many kids are here. The police officers are here and Badge the Dog. My three grandkids are here and loving it,” said Beck Fry, Belton resident. “I think that giving free school supplies to everyone is wonderful.”