United Methodist Church back to school bash a success

Manistee’s United Methodist Church gave away free school supplies and backpacks on Saturday. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — It’s almost that time of the year again: back to school.

Manistee’s United Methodist Church held an end of the summer beach bash for students on Saturday at Fifth Avenue Beach. The event featured family fun and free backpacks for the first 100 kids who showed up to the event. Those who attended were also able to pick up free school supplies like erasers, folders, pencils and more.

Tonya Wolverton, representative for the United Methodist Church children’s ministry, said last year’s inaugural event did not see the best weather, but people still showed up. However, this year’s event featured sunny skies and drew in a large crowd of parents along with their children.

“We actually had people lining up about an hour prior to the event,” Wolverton said. “We anticipate that we may actually run out of backpacks if we end up having a steady flow, which is great. Lots of people, both locally and even who are visiting the area on the beaches, have been coming out to check what’s going on.”

The congregation donated school supplies to fill the backpacks, and the children’s ministry provided the backpacks and activities.

“This is a community outreach event and the purpose is really to put supplies in the hands of kiddos, and knowing how expensive it is to send kids back to school,” Wolverton said. “The community as well as our church has the opportunity then to give back to kids, especially those who are not paying to send kids back to school. Most of the supplies here today came from Manistee United Methodist Church congregants.”

Children were able to participate in fun activities like chalk art, bubble blowing, a bounce house and snacks were even provided.

“We also gave away sunglasses, beach balls, water guns, free popcorn and River City Music School has joined us to talk about their programs,” Wolverton said. “We are just enjoying a sunny day at the beach.”

Any supplies left over from the event will be distributed to students in need.

“If we have any supplies left we will either contribute them to teachers or keep them at the office for those who need them,” Wolverton said. “This year we debated having even more backpacks, but last year it was raining and we ended up giving away about 80 backpacks. We decided to stick with 100 backpacks and see what happens.

“We know there’s other things happening in the community, but we wanted to have something locally here for parents to check out.”

Wolverton said they hope to see the event grow in the future.

“Depending on how we do this year, we may up the quantity of backpacks next year,” she said. “We invited vendors to join this year and will continue to do that in future years, as well.”

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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