ELIZABETHTOWN — More than 1,000 people were at the farmers market in Saturday for the inaugural Back 2 School Bash.
“Things are going very, very well,” said organizer and Bladen Charge Pastor Brock Meyer around noon Saturday. “I had no idea what to expect and was just praying people would come, but this is exactly what I had envisioned.”
At any given time during the day, hundreds of people were milling around the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market lobby or standing in line for one or more of the 500 backpacks the organizers were giving away. The satchels were loaded with school supplies such as pencils, pens, crayons, paper, notebooks and rulers.
The impetus for the day, however, was the haircuts that were offered free of charge. The Poplar Street hair salon His and Hers had all of their employees there for the afternoon, and Rose Ann Smith-Inman donated her entire Saturday to the effort.
Hundreds of khaki pants, shorts and skorts lined a table, all arranged by size, and charts denoting the school colors informed new parents what color polo shirts they should be browsing. A dozen volunteers were assisting parents as they looked through merchandise. The idea behind it was a swap shop where parents could exchange their children’s old uniforms for gently used ones free of charge, but organizers didn’t turn away anyone who needed new clothes.
Upward of 1,500 hot dogs were there for the taking, and guests took advantage of the farmers market’s outside tables and umbrellas to enjoy the atmosphere.
Bladen Community College was on hand teaching people about CPR; Eastpointe was letting folks know about their services; and the Bladen County Health Department was handing out cooling towels and informing parents about their free immunizations.
For the organizers, though, the day was about one thing — ministering to people.
“The Bible says this is how others will know we are Christians — that we love one another,” said Wesley’s Chapel Pastor Darryl Copeland.
The idea of love was reiterated throughout the day.
“The only way people are ever going to be drawn to Christ is if we show them that we’re not here because we’re Methodists or because we’re Baptists or because we’re Catholic, but because we are followers of Jesus Christ. It’s His love we want people to see today — not our churches.”
Meyer expressed he would love for Christian churches of various denominations and races to get involved in order to present a diverse and concentrated effort next year. To join the effort, contact Meyer at 919-606-6350.
“This is only the beginning,” he said.
Saturday’s Back 2 School Bash was organized by the Windsor United Methodist, Bethlehem United Methodist, Live Oak United Methodist, Wesley’s Chapel, and Singletary United Methodist. The Bladen Baptist Association donated to the effort as well.
A separate Back 2 School Bash was held on Sunday, courtesy of Smithfield Foods and Foundation Bible Church.
Ja-kyah Stover, 8, gets CPR instruction from Bladen Community College representatives.
Haydon, 4, will be starting school next week and received his first backpack at the Back 2 School Bash on Saturday.
Bladen Community College Continuing Education Director Sondra Guyton folds clothes that were part of the uniform exchange at the Back 2 School Bash.
Early into the Back 2 School Bash, the line for backpacks that started at the front of the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market and wound around the corner spilling onto the MLK Drive sidewalk.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.