Events prepare students for class
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on August 15, 2010 1:50 AM
Tammy Gorman holds Traci Twitty's hands as she prays for her and Twitty's family during the Goldsboro Worship Center's Back 2 School Bash on Saturday. The event offered health checkups, games, children's IDs and book bags for students. It also had a prayer room for parents and students to pray and give thanks. More than 750 people attended the event.
Hundreds of Wayne County parents received a helping hand Saturday getting their children back to school without breaking the bank as local organizations gave away school supplies and offered free family programs.
At the Goldsboro Worship Center on New Hope Road, Sarah Lee, 9, squeezed her eyes shut as hairdresser Vanessa Rivenbark snipped away at the fourth grader's wet hair, carving off inches of her long locks. Sarah, a student at Grantham School, wanted to impress her friends with a new, shorter hairstyle.
Mrs. Rivenbark, owner of Hair Expressions Salon and Day Spa, and other hairdressers from the salon volunteered with the church's outreach day to get children off to a fresh start with a free trim.
"We just want to help the kids," she said.
The church gave away 750 backpacks and piles of school supplies along with hot dogs, chips and other snacks during the back to school event at the church on New Hope Road. Volunteer Michelle Johnson helped collect money for the backpacks and worked to spread the word about the giveaway.
Although the church group originally hoped to give away 500 backpacks, the community donations were enough to buy an additional 250 of the packs, which turned out to be a good thing. Long lines stretched around the church as early as 7:30 a.m., although the event did not start until 9 a.m., Mrs. Johnson said.
"This is exactly what we wanted this year, it's been awesome. You get people, especially this time of year, the people who don't have the funds to be able to buy school supplies, because it adds up, especially if they have three or four kids or more," she said.
Organizer Richard Bledsoe introduced the idea of a back to school event when he and his wife moved back to Goldsboro from Florida last year. The Goldsboro Worship Center held a similar giveaway last year, but this year's attendance was "overwhelming," he said.
"We want to be not just another church on the corner, doing the same thing every church does, we want to go over and above and show this community that people really love them, no matter what their status in life is," Bledsoe said.
Church member and Wayne Memorial Hospital nurse Michelle Barnes manned the health screening tent, educating families about proper nutrition, hand washing and other preventative behaviors. The volunteers took blood pressure readings and gave away information meant to improve physical, emotional and spiritual health. The nurse also tested children's' eyesight with a simple eye test chart.
"We've actually found some children today who needed to go to the eye doctor," she said.
At the Everlasting Investments "Back to School Bash" on Slocumb Street, more than 125 children and their parents gathered to hear inspirational messages from the company's motivational speakers and enjoy grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. The group also gave away paper, pens, pencils, glue, crayons and door prizes, including backpacks.
Corey Pigford, president of Everlasting Investments, said the outreach was meant to bring the community together to support local children.
"We remember how it was for us when we were coming up, and we didn't have anybody to steer us in the right direction and give us confidence in ourselves," he said. "We want to let them know that although there wasn't anybody there for us, we're going to be there for them."
The theme for the day, "The Giant Within," was designed to inspire the students to believe in themselves and work hard for what they hope to achieve in school and in life.
Everlasting Investments Vice President Shahim Faircloth said he walked a difficult road before the 30-year-old came to own his own business and work as a motivational speaker. He hoped to share his experiences with the young students as a lesson for their own lives, he said.
"I once was on the streets, and I used to sell drugs, and I've been down that same road, but I'm working for the Lord now, and the Lord has put this on our hearts to give back to the community and take care of them," Faircloth said. "I pray that what we're doing, it will touch their hearts, and I pray that when they listen to is talk, it will enter into their hearts, and then they'll listen and pay attention to everything we say so they can make it in life. That's what it's all about."