Back to School Blast sending MFISD kids to class prepared
It’s time to blast off for the new school year, and there’s no better place to get prepared than the annual Back to School Blast in Marble Falls, where kids can pick up backpacks loaded with school supplies and a pair of new shoes.
“It’s really grown since it started,” said Shannon McCannon, children’s ministry director at Lake Shores Church, an organizer of the event. Lake Shores started the event in 2008 as The Fall Playbook with the aim of purchasing school supplies for teachers to hand out to students in need. Organizers learned teachers were often using money out of their own pockets to purchase school supplies for students who didn't have the necessary items for class.
In 2011, the event became the Back to School Blast, where organizers handed out 200 backpacks filled with school supplies.
“What started out as a little mission project by the church has become a community event involving at least 10 churches and 20 health and community organizations,” McCannon said.
This year’s event returns to Marble Falls Middle School, 1511 Pony Circle Drive, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 6. Last year was the first time the event moved off the Lake Shores Church campus, but as the project grew, it became apparent more space was necessary.
“Last year, we handed out 1,200 backpacks and 800 pairs of shoes,” McCannon said. “This year, we’re looking at handing out 1,500 backpacks, 1,500 pairs of shoes and socks.”
The shoes, socks and backpacks are free for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the Marble Falls Independent School District. The backpacks will be sorted by grades with the appropriate supplies.
“There’s such a big need for this,” McCannon said. “And it’s growing. I think people would be surprised how many kids show up to school the first day without pencils, paper and other basic school supplies.”
The Back to School Blast helps students start off the school year on the right foot.
As the event has grown, so has the number of needs, organizers noted. Last year, after supporters polled teachers regarding students’ needs, the No. 1 thing identified by educators was shoes. So Catherine Lemlyn of Bluebonnet Trails Community Services Early Childhood Intervention Program, the Highland Lakes Health Partnership’s Children’s Coalition and the Marble Falls Church of Christ, as well as other individuals and organizations, headed up a massive shoe drive in 2015.
The result, McCannon said, was 800 kids started the school year with new shoes.
“This year, we set a goal of handing out 1,500 pairs of shoes, and it looks like we’re going to make it,” she said.
Parents need to bring their child or children with them. Each of the first 1,500 children gets a wristband that guarantees a backpack and shoes (if the shoe drive goal is met).
The Back to School Blast will also feature free haircuts for students as well as booths set up by community organizations that provide a number of services. McCannon said one of the most surprising benefits of the Back to School Blast has been the number of families that have connected with those organizations and received needed services.
The Marble Falls Area EMS will provide car seat checks to make sure they’re properly installed. The middle school also will have new car seats to hand out to families that need one, McCannon said.
Baylor Scott and White and the local Lions Club will provide vision screenings. Dental screenings also will be offered.
Organizers still need volunteers to help prep backpacks before the event and translators the day of the blast.
Email McCannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to facebook.com/backtoschoolblast for more information or to register as a volunteer. Many of the participating churches also will have links on their websites for volunteer registration.
Find more articles like this in Picayune News