A number of Jamestown Public Schools' elementary and middle school students will be prepared to return to class with a little help from their community.
From 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Conduit Ministries will be giving away approximately 800 backpacks and 1,000 meals to students and their families on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The event is being called "I Am Loved," and will be held at 120 Delaware St., on-site at Conduit Ministries. According to Ben Gerring, pastor at Conduit, the purpose of I Am Loved is purely altruistic in nature.
Volunteers are pictured loading approximately 800 backpacks with school supplies. The backpacks will be given to area students at Conduit Ministries’ “I Am Loved” event, held at 120 Delaware St. from 1-5 p.m. Saturday.
"The biggest thing is to establish a trust in the community," Gerring said. "This I Am Loved event is about meeting the needs of the kids, and hopefully their parents, for just a few hours."
In conjunction with donations from a variety of community residents, businesses and organizations, Conduit has obtained the resources to provide the 800 backpacks - complete with back-to-school supplies - to attendees of I Am Loved. Gerring said the backpacks will include items such as notebooks, pens, highlighters, file folders and separators, loose paper and 2-inch binders. There will be six backpack color options, and each student will receive two T-shirts. There will be eight different T-shirt colors and a couple of different design options. After making their selections, students will also be offered cotton candy.
Gerring mentioned the assistance of Zion Covenant Church and First Covenant Church in helping with donations, and Persell Middle School's Parent-Teacher Association in helping to promote the event. Other entertainment will be provided in the form of bounce houses and skate park ramps.
The 1,000 meals being prepared are chicken barbecue dinners, which will also include salt potatoes, coleslaw and a roll. According to Gerring, attendees of the event will not be required to provide proof of need to receive the school supplies or dinners.
"We're just trying to help people," he said.
Gerring said a primary objective of Conduit, which has been in operations for less than a year, is to promote the improvement of the community from within. After witnessing students walking to and from school during the winter and spring months, Gerring said the church decided to host an event that would benefit these students.
"We got a good look at the demographic of folks in the immediate area. We see these kids, and they need a hope. They need an opportunity and, my heart says, they need an identity," Gerring said. "We're trying to show love to some of these kids in the city because a lot of them don't know what love is. Love is free. It comes with no strings, no conditions and no expectations. So we thought, 'Let's come up with a way to show love to the greater community and to these children.'"
Gerring said the planning process for I Am Loved began approximately six weeks ago, of which the past three were spent gathering supplies and building inventory.
"We've been really blessed that people came and gave us the resources to supply these materials," he said. "We're praying that, at the bare minimum, the kids will get what they need."
For more information on Conduit Ministries or Saturday's event, visit Conduit's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/conduitministries. To contact Conduit, email email@example.com or call 581-5333 and ask for Phil.