The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 4, 2013

800 kids get backpacks full of gear

At Back to School Community Event

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — After 12 years, the annual Back to School Community Event is still going strong at Heart of God Ministries.

Community members, local businesses and vendors gathered Saturday at South Kanawha Street in Beckley at Heart of God Ministries to enjoy some food and fun and to gear up for the brand new school year.  

“We usually see about 1,500 people and we give out 800 backpacks,” event coordinator Roslyn Artis said. “Bishop Fred Simms saw the need. There were kids in our community going back to school without what they needed.”

Every year since, the church has made the event a big back-to-school celebration.

Music was playing, kids were enjoying the bounce house and water slide, and parents were socializing with one another.

“This is an awesome event for the community,” said Shirl Lewis, of Beckley.

She was at the event with her grandchildren and they were all having a great time.

“You hear about the bad, but not a lot of good. Here, you get to see kids playing, people

eating together and having a good time.”

A fundraising drive was launched in April to generate donations from individuals, businesses, community and nonprofit organizations.

Artis said wholesale backpacks were then purchased with the donations in order to supply as many kids as possible with back-to-school necessities.

This year’s theme was “Healthy Families — Healthy Communities,” in order to focus on developing and strengthening children and families — mind, body and soul.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com