GUMC holds annual Back to School Buzz

By PAMELA GRANT
Cove Leader-Press 

Going back to school can be expensive, but Grace United Methodist Church (GUMC) helped make things a little bit easier on some parents with their 8th Annual Back to School Buzz.
The Sunday event offered free school supplies for children in Pre-K through 12th grade along with free food and other giveaways. The event was not limited to Copperas Cove students and was open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Their only requirement was that the children must be present to receive the supplies. 
Crystal Crowder, GUMC Missions Committee Chairperson, said that the event is growing every year. The first year, they gave away 125 bags of school supplies. Eight years later, they are now able to give away 540 bags of school supplies. The bags contained many of the necessities for school including pens and pencils, notebook paper, scissors, glue, and more. Carus Dental even provided some basic dental supplies for each bag. Most of the items given out Sunday were donated by members of GUMC.
“We feel blessed that we are able to meet such a need, but it’s kinda sad that there is such a need,” said Crowder. “We want to show them God’s love…It’s good to help as many as we can, but there’s always more to help. I only wish we could do more.”
Doors for the event opened at 3 p.m.; however, Crowder said that despite the heat, people began lining up for the event as early as 12:30 p.m. By 3:45 p.m., the last of the supply bags were already given away.
“We really were lucky. We saw the long line and we were like ‘Do we even try?’” said Natasha Gardner whose children, Elijah Munoz (8) and Madelaine Gardner (10) were two of the last people to be able to receive bags of supplies. “It’s wonderful. Every little bit helps.”
“I like it,” said Madelaine Gardner. “Some of the stuff we might not have had.”
Natasha Gardner said that they plan to donate any of the items that her children won’t need to others who might benefit from them as well.
In addition to the bags of school supplies, the church also gave away 175 empty backpacks as door prizes. One member of the church, a former librarian, also brought numerous children’s books to be given away.
After receiving their bags of goodies, children and their parents lined up for hotdogs, chips, and drinks while they lasted. Many stayed to listen to music and play games.
“I love what they do here and how it grows more and more every year,” said Lelani Wilson, Committee Chair for Cub Scout Pack #258.
Members of the Boy Scouts were one of many groups on hand at the event to provide participants with information. Wilson’s group allowed children to run through an obstacle course for small prizes. Wilson said that the Cub Scouts offer children a positive outlet where they welcome all families.
“We’re one big family and we help people,” said Cub Scout Silas Wilson (9).
Other groups at the event included the Masonic Lodge, the Methodist Children’s Home, AWARE Central Texas, and more.
Shalee St John and her husband Colton St John attended the event along with their children, Alina (6), Gabe (11), and Paisley St John (1 ½).
“It’s very helpful,” said Shalee St John. “Any little bit always helps.”
“The organization of the process was very clean. It wasn’t just chaos, it was well planned,” said Colton St John. “It was very helpful and will be very effective in supporting the school year.”

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