Geared up: Kids receive free school supplies

By Austin Jackson | Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018

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Geared Up

GEARED UP – Alan Mendoza, 3, wears his new backpack at the Gear Up school supply drive at the Decatur Church of Christ Sunday. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

Tax-free weekend is nigh, but for many Wise County families, the best deals around town were found in the not-for-profit hallways of the Decatur Church of Christ.

After the Sunday sermon, many of the church’s congregation slipped through the doorway to find groups of children and families already staged outside the doorway for the evening event – part of an annual August tradition known as the Gear Up school supply drive.

Many waited in line for hours at the 10th annual donation event, and although children entered the doorways empty handed, they left well-equipped for the school year with free new backpacks, school supplies, shoes, books, glasses and haircuts. Some even stayed for dinner, snow cones and had their faces painted, too.

Decatur Church of Christ has hosted the event since 2008. Youth and Family Minister Jacob Baker, who helped organize the event, said they were prepared to give away 800 backpacks, 454 pairs of shoes and countless other services to area children.

“We know backpack and school supplies are a big need,” Baker said. “We’re just trying to make the biggest impact we can to help the community and kids in Wise County.”

Starting in Style

STARTING IN STYLE – Bridgeport student Baylee Rivers, 9, picks out books at the Gear Up school supply drive at the Decatur Church of Christ Sunday. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

Baker said they would probably give away 700 backpacks during the two-hour event.

The biggest testament for Baker of the service provided by the church and other sponsors is the people lined up waiting for hours just to get a chance to start the school year with supplies.

“I don’t really want to see people sitting outside in the heat, but if anything, it shows how important getting supplies is to these families,” he said. “Families were lined up for hours, just to get a pair of shoes or a backpack. To them, this is a very big deal. That’s why we do it.”

Baker said the event began with some soul searching. He said the church prayed on how to serve the community around them and providing school supplies became the obvious answer.

“We asked God, ‘what are the needs of this community?'” Baker said. “Ever since, we’ve been doing this to give back.”

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