By CHERIL VERNON
Just in time for the upcoming school year, Cornerstone Worship Center in Palestine is planning to give away 1,000 backpacks full of school supplies and offer free haircuts during its annual Back to School Bash on Saturday, Aug. 17.
The back-to-school event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the church, which moved recently to its new location at 1100 Salt Works Road, behind Turbyfill Machine Shop.
“We’ve been doing the Back to School Bash for a few years. We started internally and started reaching out to the community,” said Amanda Malone who pastors Cornerstone Worship Center with her husband, David. “Last year, we gave around 175 to 200 bags of school supplies and offered free haircuts and refreshments.
“We ran out within 15 minutes and had to turn away about 400 children and their parents. It absolutely broke my heart.”
Since then, the church has been planning year-round to make sure that this year’s event has enough supplies to serve a large portion of the community.
“Our vision at Cornerstone is to be God’s hand extended, reaching out into the community, helping those who need us. That’s what the church is here for,” Amanda Malone said. “We have spent the whole year now collecting and saving backpacks and are now working on filling them.”
There will be no requirements for parents or children to meet to receive a backpack.
“Show up with the child and we will hand you a backpack. They do not have to receive federal assistance to qualify for this,” Amanda Malone said.
At this year’s event, a youth band will provide live music and they will be giving away hot dogs, chips and water. McGruff the Crime Dog will visit with the children. Local hairstylists have donated their time to offer haircuts for the students.
“Several others will be there in the community helping. We have a long list of sponsors — which we are calling ‘helping hands’ — who have been supporting us on this effort,” Amanda Malone said.
One of those supporters is Harley Davidson, which provided 100 backpacks with the Harley Davidson emblem on them. They also provided 50 Harley Davidson t-shirts and other novelties the church plans to either sell or auction off to raise money for the school supplies.
Other sponsors include: Dr. Patricia H. Luce, Colonial Gold Buyers, Larry and Renee Acreman, Sondra Bell, K9 Cuts, Jamie’s Therapeutic Touch, 4-H Oilfield Services, Big Mike’s Wrecker Service, Rick’s Lawn Service, Flint Energy, Owen’s Tires, L&P Paint & Body, Appliance Sales & Service, Trutone Paint and Body, Security Storage, KVNE 89.5 radio station, Dr. Davida Wardell from Pediatrics Associates; and Frank and Sharon Harrison.
“If any business in the community or individual wants to donate to us, we are accepting donations and we do have tax write-off forms,” Amanda Malone said.
In addition, Gideons International is providing 1,000 Bibles to put in the backpacks.
“That’s 1,000 children that will be able to take a Bible home with them,” she added. “That makes me feel happy, because even if they don’t have all the school supplies they need, they have the word of God.
“Through this outreach to the community, they will see Jesus through us.”
Cornerstone Worship Center is still collecting the following school supplies and is requesting the community’s assistance: notebook paper, pens, pencils, crayons (24-count), folders and spiral notebooks.
“We have purchased everything else — the backpacks, erasers and glue, for example,” Amanda Malone said.
For more information about the Back to School Bash, call Amanda Malone at 903-922-6014.
In order to continue collecting school supplies for the Back to School Bash, Cornerstone Worship Center will hold a Back to School Bash Singing event at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 featuring several singers and groups. The cost of admission is bringing school supplies.
The donated Harley Davidson t-shirts will be sold during the event and other Harley Davidson novelty items will be auctioned off to raise money to purchase more school supplies.
NOTE: The Palestine Junior Service League will be holding its annual Back to School Fair from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Palestine Junior High School Cafeteria. Read more details about this event in Saturday’s weekend edition.