Fort Branch United Methodist Church makes it their mission to send students to school with backpacks filled with blessings through their Back to School Bash.
The sixth annual Bash was held on July 31, 2021. Located just north of Evansville, Fort Branch UMC served students from Pre-K to High School Seniors from Gibson, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Knox, and Pike counties, as well as Mt. Carmel, IL, and Henderson, KY.
In the first year for the Bash, 2016, they served 60 students. The festivities included free haircuts, games, prizes, and randomly–drawn vouchers of $125 for school fees. In 2020, they served over 360 students. In 2021, that number rose to 479.
As needs and settings changed, so did the Back to School Bash, shared Church Administrator Melissa Foster. In order to accommodate social distancing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bash for 2020 and 2021 moved to a drive-through style. Pre-registrations allowed the host of incredible volunteers to pre-pack bags of school supplies according to individual school and teacher lists. At the event, parents checked-in and drove to the back where their child picked a backpack of their choice and received their supplies. Volunteers made quick work of filling backpacks in the moment for students that arrived without pre-registration.
The Back to School Bash is a celebration of the students as they launch into a new school year. It is also a celebration of the volunteers and the many contributors who make the event happen with their donations of time and energy.
Foster shared, “We have taken the motto ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ So our church will continue to provide this service and seek the community’s help as long as there is a need for this ministry.”
As they dedicate themselves to the ministry of “Children Matter Most,” Fort Branch UMC and their community make a significant impact on families and schools.