Back 2 School Bash

Two volunteers are pictured at a prior Back 2 School Bash, hosted by Eastland Baptist Church. This year’s event will take place at East End Park in Bryan on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Whether online or in person, students will be in school this fall, which means they will need supplies, pandemic or not.

That’s where Eastland Baptist Church comes in with its 10th annual Back 2 School Bash, where the church will give away backpacks with supplies to students from around the county.

The event will be Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m. at East End Park.

“We will be there just encouraging our students and families with a special message before school starts and we’ll be handing out backpacks, school supplies, while those supplies last,” Kelli Dean, one of the organizers of the event, said. “We should have a good quantity.”

They have around 125 backpacks to give away this year, she said.

While the pandemic hasn’t stopped them, it has changed some of the details.

Primarily, the event will no longer be at Mattie Marsh Park.

“That park (Mattie Marsh) is so much smaller,” Dean said. “This year, in order to be able to do some social distancing in a safe way, we have moved it to East End Park, which is right out by East End Pool,” at 1400 E. High St. “We’ll be able to space apart a little bit this year.”

In addition to more space, Dean said they encourage people to social distance and to wear a mask.

The way the backpacks and supplies will be handed out will also be different. In prior years, people picked up the supplies they needed which were spread out on a table.

“This year, we’re packing the book bags ahead of time to minimize a lot of hand touching,” Dean said. “So, we’ll have the book bags already packed for each grade level, from preschool to 12th grade.”

All people will have to do is come up and grab a backpack for their child’s grade level.

The packs will not be filled with everything the students need, but will feature a variety of items such as pencils, erasers, paper, notebooks, colored pencils and so on, she said. They will not have cleaning supplies like Clorox wipes or tissues.

While there are a limited number of backpacks for each grade, Dean said many of the grade levels have similar supply lists so there is some flexibility.

“We try hard to make sure we have plenty for each grade level and it’s worked out in years past,” Dean said. “I think it’ll be good, I think it will work out just fine.”

Anyone can come and get supplies, though the church asks that any student be accompanied by an adult.

It is open to students outside of the city, as well as students who will be attending school online.

“Our school year is set to open Aug. 19. The kids are going to need school supplies in order to go to school,” Dean said. “Regardless of what they’re doing this year, we want them to know they are all welcome to come because no matter if they are doing school at home or face-to-face in the school building, they all need supplies.”

Dean said they typically serve around 100 students at the event.

This is the 10th event of its kind hosted by its church, which she said is a mission-oriented church.

“We want to serve our community the best way and any way that we can,” Dean said. “It’s great to be at church and serve within our church. But, really, the Body of Christ in our church likes to go out beyond the building of our church and be the church in our community.”

The handouts come from donations within the church of both supplies and money but also from outside the church.

For example, Dean said Walmart donated some supplies as had donors who don’t go to Eastland Baptist Church.

“We’re very thankful that we live in a community that really works together to make sure these kinds of things happen. With the mayor, the city of Bryan, the parks department,” she said. “We’re very blessed and feel our community is very blessed to still be able to do some of these things and to make sure that they happen the best way possible.”

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