On July 28 hundreds of local children will have the opportunity to receive free school supplies thanks to Discovery Church’s “We Care” program. Now in its fourth year, the event has evolved to become a fun family activity involving food, jump houses, a DJ and a raffle.
“We will be doing that again,” says Julia Henderson, Director of Discovery Church’s We Care program. “Everybody had a blast last year. We want it to be fun and have a party feel.”
School supplies can put a strain on parent’s budgets each year, especially with multiple children in the family. Last year the event drew approximately 700 students and this year they are projecting about 1,000. Each child, from pre-K to 8th grade, gets to pick out his or her own backpack and then fill it with all the supplies needed to get a great start in school, from papers and pencils, to colored pencils, markers, binders and more.
“Whoever comes is welcome,” says Henderson. “We’re really excited just to be able to serve a community in need. There’s no registration – you just show up and we’ll be handing out what we call passports. It’s a check off list for each item you’ll be receiving at the event.”
We Care has also partnered with a few local restaurants including Pizza Guys in Petaluma and The Lumpia Kitchen in Rohnert Park to offer free food to participants. The event will be held at the Rohnert Park Community Center quad area from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
We Care was the brainchild of John Pita, the pastor at Discovery Church. When he purchased new school supplies for his son who was just starting to attend school about four years ago, he realized that many in the community could not afford new items every year for their children. He knew helping parents and students in this way would be a great way to help the community.
The donations come from both the congregation of Discovery Church, as well as local businesses who contribute both supplies and/or monetary donations. Henderson feels the event has enough backpacks to accommodate the number of children expected but could still use some of the “filler” material such as colored pencils, markers and paper. Any donations can be dropped off at the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce or at Discovery Church during their 10:30 Sunday morning services.
“It’s awesome to see the community come together in more ways than one,” says Henderson. “I love to see the kids come through and be so excited that they can pick out their own items, their own backpacks and what binder they want to have. They’re so excited just to know that it’s theirs.”