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More Families Depend On Church Giveaways

Black Voice News.com, News Report , Chris Levister Posted: Aug 24, 2009

Thousands of Inland children are heading back to class, which means the demand for school supplies is up and tough in this economy. The demand was evident in Rialto at Redeemer Christian Fellowship Saturday when nearly 1,500 people showed up in hopes of getting one of 200 backpacks filled with school supplies. With more people out of work, more parents are turning to church school supply giveaways.

Yolanda Phillips has a first, second and fourth grader at Mt. Vernon Elementary School in San Bernardino, and a freshman at Arroyo High School. She said buying school supplies this year is particularly upsetting.

One dozen pencils, a pair of scissors, two boxes of 16-count crayons and the list goes on.

Last week Phillips, a pediatric nurse and single parent, took a school supply list to a neighborhood discount store to see how much money could be saved on a budget.

A generic backpack was $5.00. Three dozen pencils were $4.50. Three spiral notebooks were $3.

Eight jumbo glue sticks were $11. Three boxes of eight Crayola crayons was $4.77. Three pairs of blunt-end Fiskar scissors was $3.50, Germ-X hand sanitizer was $1.80. The total for all that was $37.17, without tax. And that wasnt the entire list, so people like Phillips rely on church school supply giveaways to help cut some costs.

Thank God for the churches, because Ive already spent $220.00 on school clothes and shoes. I just feel overwhelmed. So much so that Phillips has created her own list of church giveaways.
Im holding out for the big ones, she says with a big grin.

Like the annual Rock Church Back to School Bash set for the first of September in San Bernardino. Last year the Phillips family braved a massive crowd of more than 2,500 people. We left last year with two backpacks full of school supplies, sneakers, jackets and toiletries.

The kids got haircuts and school health exams. That saved me around $250. It was a real blessing, she said.

In what Rock Church volunteer Rev. Khalid Sayegh called sowing the seeds of life the churchs World Outreach Center will hand out more than 2,000 backpacks, shoes, and uniform shirts, to needy families like the Phillips.

Its all about ministering to the community and the children. I hear mothers say they cant afford food and gas let alone backpacks and school supplies.

The cost of sending a kid back to school is skyrocketing. We want to help lighten the burden. said Sayegh.

The numbers are exploding. We knew the number of people in need would grow, but not in this magnitude, said volunteer Lani Sims.
People are hurting. When I saw the children standing in long lines hours before we opened the gates last year, the first thing I did was get to work.

Theyre the future.At a storefront church in Banning resident Carla Saints was holding an umbrella to shade herself and her three children on Saturday. They had been in line two hours.

If people didnt need this, there wouldnt be this kind of turnout, she said.

For Riverside resident Jamie Halprin, the back-to-school event was just in time, considering that he is a single parent with four children. Hes two months behind on his mortgage and because of the economic slump hes had to scrap luxury items like new backpacks.

Its been hard Theres no fat in our budget. I had to say to the kids, make due with what youve got. Its either pay the bills or eat, he said referring to the economic strains.

Sayegh says the colorful backpacks and array of pens, pencils, notepads, rulers and other schools supplies are purchased with donations from church members. Several local hair stylists, health providers and retailers donate haircuts for boys and braids for girls, health physicals, vaccination information, clothing and shoes.

We even gave away dog food, said Sayegh. Were just thrilled and so blessed to have volunteers that make the annual event so special.

The best thing about this kind of outreach, said Sayegh who calls the Rock Church a cultural buffet, is It builds community. With no strings attached, the church is providing families and children with hope where often there is none. It allows people to connect with the church and the community. Thats what makes this ministry so powerful.

Among upcoming church giveaways is the annual back to school carnival at Valley Fellowship Community Service in Rialto set for August 23 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The event is a joint effort sponsored by Impact Partners, First 5 San Bernardino, Census 2010, Possibilities Loma Linda, Congressman Joe Baca and Assembly Wilmer Amina Carter.

The event is free, the giveaway includes 500 backpacks, food, games, health screenings and community resource information.

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