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The St. Louis Dream Center recently hosted its 12th Annual Back to School Blast—a free community-wide event to help families prepare for the upcoming school year. Nearly 3,000 inner-city residents benefited from free services kids need to start school, while also enjoying the last part of summer with carnival-like activities and food. More than 150 volunteers worked together to make sure every child had the necessary supplies and checkups to start school while helping them have lots of fun at the event.
Registering for school, buying supplies and scheduling doctor's appointments for immunizations and physical exams on time are just a few things many school-aged children have to do before they can start school. And if the kids start school late because they haven't registered, gotten their supplies or seen their doctor in time, it's possible that schools could be under-prepared to accommodate all of the kids.
The process is stressful and a financial burden for many low-income families or single-parent homes in St. Louis. The Back to School Blast is designed to lift that burden.
"A lot of families have come to depend on what's offered at the Back to School Blast," says Jeff Allensworth, director of the SLDC.
The Back to School Blast provides parents one convenient location to bring their children so they can start school on time.
Kala Harris has six children and says the Blast means the world to her. "It's not always been easy, but it's nice to have something like this in the neighborhood—convenient and helpful to get school supplies and checkups in one place," Harris says.
"With thousands of people attending each year, we're always looking for ways to be more efficient and organized," says SLDC event coordinator Judy Lamborn. "This year was the best yet!"
Families filed through a multi-classroom building, eight at a time, where most of the free services were easily labeled and located. Next, students picked up a backpack filled with new school supplies needed for their particular grade and picked out shoes donated by a partnering church. Kala Harris' daughter Janaya had hoped to find a pair of shoes but was unable to get the right fit. Read what happened.
Families also enjoyed the fun and food outside on blocked-off streets. "Everything's free, and the kids love it—especially the face paintings and caricatures," Lamborn says. Kids and their families could also play in a bounce house, climb a rock wall, get haircuts and enjoy hot dogs, kettle corn and sno-cones.
At Joyce Meyer Ministries, we know the importance of working as a team. Without the prayers and support of our friends and partners, St. Louis Dream Center events like the Back to School Blast wouldn't be possible. You're helping change the lives of children to give them a hopeful future. Thank you so much!
Hand of Hope is the missions arm of Joyce Meyer Ministries. Our goal is simply to help as many hurting people as we possibly can, to alleviate human suffering and to help Christians grow in their faith.