The Belton Journal
The annual Back to School with God Backpack Giveaway was held on Saturday morning at Yetti Polk Park in Belton. Eleven years ago, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church of Belton initiated the backpack giveaway, recognizing the importance of accessible school supplies completely free of charge to any family with school-age children for the start of the new school year.
Members of Mt. Zion Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church in Belton, collaborated to acquire backpacks and collect school supplies, which were generously donated by various organizations, businesses, and through monetary contributions.
This year, the churches were able to purchase and fill 650 backpacks with school supplies. With the aim of supplying students with necessary supplies for the beginning of the school year, parishioners successfully filled them with essential items such as composition books, notebook paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, and much more. The backpacks were filled with school supplies for Pre-K- 12th grade. Collected supplies were broken down into Pre-k and kindergarten, first and second grade, third through fifth grade, and middle and high school together.
In addition to the backpack giveaway, the Temple Breakfast Lions Club, Belton Lions Club, Temple-Belton Ladies Lions, and Temple Founders Lions partnered together and conducted 70 free vision screenings available to any child. If during the vision exam there is a question concerning the child’s vision, the Lions Club is able to provide referrals to an optometrist. In some cases, if the child requires eyeglasses, the Lions Club can assist in covering or fully covering the expenses associated with the eye examination and acquiring glasses.
Shelly White was a co-coordinator and is a member of the First United Methodist Church for this year’s event. White is a middle school teacher at Lamar Middle School in Temple.
“I love volunteering in the community and helping kids and the community,” she said.
White expressed her happiness in seeing the children’s enthusiasm as they selected their backpack colors.
Within the first 40 minutes, about 200 backpacks had been distributed.
According to Matt Smith, Belton ISD Superintendent, “This is a great example of how a community comes together to support families. We are thankful for the faith-based community that gives our students a positive start to the new school year.”
Despite the excessive heat, families used the time to encourage their kids to enjoy the free bounce houses, lawn games, popcorn, crafts, free haircuts, and to socialize with other children.
The Belton Fire Department was on hand to give tours of their fire truck.
Mary Taylor took her family for the school backpacks and supplies.
“I am truly blessed that so many people are here to help give my kids a good start to the new school year. I am thankful that my children have the necessary supplies,” Taylor said.
Any backpacks not distributed by the end of the event were donated to Helping Hands Ministry in Belton, and local schools. At the time of going to press, it was unknown how many backpacks had been distributed.