Community Unity: Rally to get kids ready for school

MANATEE — Apostle Glen Evans of Redeemed Christian Center believes the real mission of a church isn’t to have its members always sitting inside in air-conditioning studying Bible verse.

If a church is out on the street serving the needy, then God is served, too, says the pastor, who has held that view while preaching at Redeemed Christian Center, which holds its services at the East Bradenton Just for Girls.

As one who goes to the streets throughout the urban center of Bradenton to see how he can help people, Evans has regularly heard complaints from young mothers that they don’t have money for back-to-school supplies or taxi fare to take their children for medical checkups.

“I’ve heard it so such I want to take their children in my own car,” Evans said. “I felt impressed by God to have an event where needy families could get everything they need in one place and free of charge.”

That mission resumes this year with the sixth annual Unity in the Community Back to School Resource & Wellness Rally.

The event, which is expected to supply more than 900 free backpacks stuffed with school supplies to school-age child-

ren who come with a parent, will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the East Bradenton Just for Girls, 1011 21st St. E., Bradenton.

“There will be no religious material there and no verses quoted,” Evans said. “We are trying to meet the needs of children and parents during a very tough time. This is what a church is supposed to be doing, period. If we can bring everyone together — stores, government agencies, the school board — this is our mission.”

Parents will be able to get free immunizations, physicals and vision screening for their children at the event, Evans said.

While the children are being seen by a doctor, the parents can also get a diabetes and blood pressure screening, the pastor added.

Two barbers are donating hair cuts for the kids. A church member donated 1,028 hot dogs and Flowers Bakery donated 1,000 hot dog buns. Besides hot dogs, there will be free popcorn and watermelon.

Rogers Community United Methodist Church will send 31 volunteers to help hand out the backpacks.

The Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency, Bradenton Front Porch, Bradenton Housing Authority and School Board of Manatee County all pitched in with resources, Evans said.

“We’re expecting a huge turn-out,” said Tish Jones, a church spokeswoman. “Our church has been collecting money since May for this.”

The church raised $9,500 to buy the backpacks from local businesses, Evans said.

Small children will get backpacks with glue sticks and other age appropriate supplies. Older kids will get pencils and pens, spiral notebooks and two folders in their backpacks, Jones said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917.