DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — With more than 700 backpacks handed out in recent years, the annual Back-to-School Blast has helped get area kids ready for class. This year, though, organizers are looking at a big jump — double, in fact — in the number of backpacks loaded with school supplies they plan to hand out in August.
And they could use a little help.
“We have 1,500 backpacks to hand out,” said Jennifer Hall of Lake Shores Church. “In the past couple of years, we saw our numbers stay over 700. But we knew with 70 percent of the kids in (Marble Falls Independent School District) qualified for free or reduced lunches, there were a lot we were missing.”
So Lake Shores Church reached out to the Highland Lakes Children Coalition, the Highland Lakes Health Partnership and several other area churches to see if they could get the word out better. Before students headed home for the summer, volunteers made sure fliers announcing the 2015 Back-to-School Blast were in the kids’ hands.
The Back-to-School Blast is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 15 at Marble Falls Middle School, 1511 Pony Circle.
This year, organizers have even expanded the program to include a new pair of shoes (complete with socks and laces) to each qualifying child.
“We’re still seeking donations of new shoes, socks and laces,” Hall said. “Of course, we’ll take monetary donations as well.”
As for the backpacks, organizers have them and all the school supplies ready for packing. Hall said the backpacks will contain the supplies from the school district’s supply lists. The goal is to make sure each pre-K through eighth-grade student is ready for the first day of class.
“The only reason we didn’t include the high school was because they don’t have school supply lists,” Hall said.
Hall said the Back-to-School Blast has truly grown into a community event. The church started in 2008 with the “Fall Playbook” to provide supplies to MFISD elementary schools but switched to the backpack program in 2011.
“This is our fifth annual event, and we’ve really tried to expand it and include the entire community,” Hall said. “Counting us, there are 10 total area churches who are involved. And with (the Highland Lakes Health Partnership) and Highland Lakes Children Coalition, it’s really going to make a difference in a lot of kids’ lives.”
One of the churches has stepped up to serve food to the families during the Back-to-School Blast, while another is providing a bounce house. There also will be vendors and booths representing a variety of organizations.
But as the event approaches, organizers are in need of one more thing: volunteers.
“We have spots for 166 volunteers,” Hall said.
Volunteers can sign up through the Lake Shores Church website at lakeshoreschurch.com by clicking on “Launch Central” the “Ministries” tab.
As they gear up for the largest Back-to-School Blast, organizers are already looking toward the 2016 event. Hall said it will take another round of donations and support for an even bigger impact.
Contact Hall at (830) 637-7066 or email@example.com for more information.