2022 Back to School Event Redesigned With Kids in Mind
The Give a Kid a Chance (GAKAC) team is gearing up for the 2022 back to school event, set for July 23 at Hillside United Methodist Church in Woodstock, Revolution Church Canton and Revolution Church Jasper. While much of the preparation is the same, there are a few new elements this year, starting with leadership.
GAKAC is now part of the outreach ministry of Revolution Church. Zip Cain, the church’s missions minister, is directing the annual event, now in its 16th year. The benefit of having GAKAC join the mission of Revolution Church is that it will add to the year-round efforts of Revolution to serve under-resourced families in Cherokee and Pickens counties.
Another change is that children, after they pick out their new backpack, will be able to choose each item to fill them, rather than receive previously filled backpacks. They will head off to have fun with games and activities while their parents and/or guardians can check out a community resource center that has information for additional help they may need.
Every family will leave with a meal, thanks to SERV International in Canton, Forever Fed in Woodstock and Cares Food Pantry at the Pickens County location. Other fun activities at the event include bounce houses, games and crafts, and the police department will have vehicles at each location for kids to explore.
This new structure fulfills the five staples of the bash: backpacks, prayer, games, food boxes and resources.
“At the end of every summer, families in our community are beginning to gather school supplies for their kids to have educational success. When a family is living paycheck to paycheck, this can be extremely difficult to do. Children often have to learn to make do with what they have, even if that means returning to school without the proper essentials they need to succeed,” Cain said.
In the Beginning
This ministry began in 2006, when several members of Liberty Hill United Methodist Church in Canton were inspired to begin an outreach based on a successful back-to-school program for single parent families at Milford Church of God in Austell (www.milford.org). They wanted to start a similar ministry in Cherokee, offering local students every possible advantage as they begin a new school year.
In that first year, 100 children were served by three churches. The next year, GAKAC leaders partnered with MUST Ministries to serve 1,000 children — with the help of 21 churches, nonprofits and civic groups.
In 2008, more than 1,500 children attended the event, supported by 600 volunteers and more than 30 churches, nonprofits and civic groups. Year after year, the average number of children who received backpacks and services averaged about 2,800. Growth into Jasper certainly will boost the numbers, helping more children in need.
“We are humbled by the opportunity to lead such an amazing outreach event, which was brought to life many years ago,” Cain said. “Although some things have changed about the event, the heart behind why it was started remains the same. We want to mobilize the churches and organizations in our community to live a life on mission, and we want under-resourced families to tangibly feel the love of Christ through this event.”
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.