Back to School Bash at Lee Memorial SDA Church

Lee Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church is sponsoring its fourth annual Back to School Bash to allow children to pick out free, new uniforms for school. Parents who have children in need of school clothing are invited to come to the church 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Staff Writer

For the fourth year, Lee Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church is providing school uniforms free of charge to local children.

There will be uniforms for children in kindergarten through sixth grade and a limited supply of clothing for students in grades 7 - 12 who no longer wear uniforms.

There will be a water slide and light refreshments for those who come from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 30. Children are asked to bring bathing suits and towels to enjoy the water slide.

"We've been providing new uniforms for four years," said Sharon Applewhite, a church member and one of the leaders for the event. "This is the first time we will also have clothes for the children in junior high and high school who are able to wear regular clothes to school. We don't have as many of those as we do the uniforms, but we want to help the older kids too."

Applewhite said they are prepared for 100 to 110 children to come to the event.

The children have to have parental supervision, they cannot be dropped off and the children receiving clothing must be present.

"I would go to the schools for awards and grandparents days," Applewhite said. "I noticed a lot of children were wearing clothing that was very worn. I understand hand-me-downs, especially with large families. It seemed like there was need in our community."

She spoke with teachers and offered to help discreetly. When going back to visit the school she said there was a huge difference in the children who had received the clothing.

"They had been quiet and introverted," Applewhite said. "Now they were smiling and happy to be part of the class. It's amazing what some nice, new uniforms did for their self - esteem."

Applewhite said she and Pearly Westbrooks had partnered with Bright Horizons to help children make a fresh start when they returned to school with new uniforms.

"We took the idea to the church," Applewhite said. "At first we helped with school supplies. But we saw there are several groups who were meeting that particular need. We focus on clothing. We want the children to go to school with their heads held high."

She said she hopes they are able to provide more clothing next year for the older children.

"The Back to School Bash is sponsored by the Community Service department of the church," Applewhite said. "We are praying for good weather so the children can enjoy the water slide. We hope there are a lot of families who will accept our help."

Applewhite said they are a small church and it takes everyone joining together and helping to make the event happen each year.

"Everyone at the church pitches in to help." Applewhite said. "Even the children help by directing people where to go for what they need. Its something we all want to be a part of."

She said there is no end in sight as far as providing children in the community with school clothes. The church conference has taken notice and supports Lee Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church in the community project.

"We have passed around the idea to other Seventh Day Adventist churches," Applewhite said. "Many are providing backpacks and school supplies. They know the need in their communities and are meeting those needs."

Applewhite said she buys clothing out of season and goes to clearance sales. She said she is working with Bright Horizons to provide coats and shoes to children in need.

Lee Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church may be small, but they are doing big things in service to the community.