Hundreds of kids are better equipped to start school later this month, thanks to a Newark church’s efforts to distribute backpacks and school supplies to families in need.
New Heart Ministries held its second-annual backpack giveaway Saturday afternoon at Carrington Way apartments. The event took on a picnic-like feel, with food, a moon bounce, music, face painting, raffles and other activities.
“We realized there are children in our community who are going to school without the necessary supplies,” pastor Desiree Fox said. “If we don’t equip them, who’s going to if the parents can’t?”
The roughly 40 congregants of the church located in Market East Plaza solicited contributions from local businesses and also collected money from friends and family members. They filled 312 backpacks with school supplies and gave out around 200 on Saturday, with plans to distribute the rest to other families later this month.
While the event is a big undertaking, “when God is involved, nothing is impossible,” Fox said.
Nonny Busby, another pastor at the church, said it’s important for the church to go out into the community to serve its neighbors.
“We need to come where they are,” Busby said.
“We need to not just tell people about God’s love, but show them,” Fox added.
Last year’s event was at Alder Creek on Cleveland Avenue. Fox said the church looks for the area with the greatest need and this year decided on Carrington Way, much to the delight of Kim Carnazza, property manager of the 168-unit subsidized housing complex on Kimberton Drive.
“What a wonderful turnout,” Carnazza said. “Our kids have their backpacks.”
Mayor Polly Sierer attended the event and distributed 40 shoe vouchers on behalf of the Newark Area Welfare Committee.
“I’m very grateful to New Heart Ministries for putting together this great community event,” Sierer said. “The people in this community very much need and appreciate the supplies for their children.”
Mina Rodriguez brought her 6-year-old grandson, Juan Bultron, to the event and said she enjoyed spending the afternoon getting to know neighbors and appreciated the opportunity to pick up school supplies for Juan.
“Lots of neighbors like us are in need, so it’s a very good help,” Rodriguez said as she watched Juan get his face painted.