Prep for School continues in Elkhart with Backpack Giveaway

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ELKHART, Ind. - After a week of back and forth news in regards to school starting in person or virtually in Elkhart County, World Harvest Church in Elkhart wanted to give back to the community in a way that keeps kids ready for school no matter what form it takes. In an effort to help prepare for the upcoming school year and to fight hunger in the community, World Harvest Church in Elkhart put on a backpack giveaway and food drive in its parking lot. The backpacks were filled with school supplies, and volunteers handed out boxes of fresh produce and dairy products.

"Knowing that kids are going back to school either online or in person, we wanted to give backpacks away," said Nate Calaway, World Harvest Church Elkhart Campus Pastor. "So, we're giving away over 150 backpacks full of school supplies, and then just to make it fun for the kids, in the car, they're going to get free Dippin' Dots. Then, we were able to give away free food boxes. So, every family is going to go away with a produce box full of fresh produce and then a dairy box. It's got to gallons of milk, yogurt, cheese just to help be a blessing to the community, especially in this time of need, of COVID and quarantine and all of that kind of stuff."

This was the first time the church was able to put together a community service event this summer as the pandemic had forced the cancellation of other summer service events. Because of the pandemic, the giveaway was held drive through style with volunteers wearing masks and distributing the product to people in their cars. Volunteers said the motivation for such events is simply to work for the betterment of the community.

"We really just want to give to the community," said giveaway volunteer Quincy Calloway. "We want them to know that we're here. We want them to know that we're here for them. This is a really really hard time that we're living in, but we as World Harvest Church, we just want to make sure that you guys are covered and that you know that the heart is here."

Volunteers also said getting the food and supplies to the church to be handed out proved to be a tall task.

"I was in Chicago, downtown two days ago with a 20 foot U-Haul and loaded it up with all these milk products and produce that you see over here and had to drive the Dan Ryan Expressway and the Indiana Toll Road all the way back in a very heavy, loaded truck just to get it back here for today," said Volunteer John Arvoy.

Volunteers and organizers said they would consider the giveaway a success if even one person came through. After more than 200 people came through Sunday, volunteers said they are looking forward to the future.

"Well, I'm excited," said Arvoy. "This is the first time that we've had a chance to do something for the community. Going through this, I'm starting to feel like church is just starting to get normal. We're starting to do the things that we want to do. I'm excited in knowing that we've got a lot more of this ahead in the future."

Arvoy said the church updates its Facebook page and website with upcoming events for which anyone can volunteer or participate.

The group had extra produce boxes left and donated them to Faith Mission of Elkhart.

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