Churches in Derry Twp., Jeannette among those to offer free school supplies, haircuts
With the first day of school right around the corner, churches and organizations across Westmoreland and Allegheny counties are fielding some of the back-to-school costs by handing out free school supplies.
Here’s a look at three of them:
In Westmoreland’s Derry Township, Harvest Church is preparing for the 20th annual back-to-school celebration that offers kids and families free school supplies, clothes, haircuts and a free meal.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 at 220 Pittsburgh St . Registration is not required.
“Back to school is really hard on people,” said Susan Lyons, church administrator. “We try to cover all the bases and then let them have a really good lunch while they’re there.”
Lyons said she and her husband, Shawn, who is a pastor at the church, have a heart for helping people in the community and thought it would be a way to help out families at the start of the school year.
The church, which raises money for the project throughout the year, spends about $10,000 on new school supplies and backpacks, she said. Parishioners donate clothes, shoes, purses and accessories, which typically fills the sanctuary.
“It’s quite a scene that day,” Lyons said. “It’s like a mad rush to the mall.”
Lyons said last year the event drew over 1,000 people who came from over five counties. Lining up people outside, families are able to go from getting haircuts to picking out supplies at their leisure, but Lyons advised people to attend the event earlier in the day.
Between 10 and 12 stylists will be available to cut hair for kids and adults. Last year, about 145 haircuts were done in four hours, Lyons said.
Stuff a book bag in Jeannette, too
Rock of Refuge Congregational Church in Jeannette is hosting its second-annual school blessing Saturday, Aug. 3, when they will give out supplies to about 300 local students from preschool to 12th grade. The students will receive new book bags, markers, colored pencils, paper, notebooks, index cards, hygiene items and more.
This year, the event is split into two sessions — 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — where students will first sit through a short prayer and then “shop” for their items, meaning they get to pick the color book bag they want and then stuff it with items of their choosing.
Students who plan on attending are required to pre-register at the church, 102 Clay Ave., Jeannette.
Similar event in Sharpsburg
In Allegheny County, Volunteers of America and the Sharpsburg Family Worship Center are hoping to ease the expense for local families with the annual Operation Backpack, an event where school-aged children can shop for back-to-school needs — all for free.
There will be giveaways of backpacks, pens, notebooks and other classroom necessities, Jamie Horne, children’s ministry and outreach director, said.
There also will be food, games and haircuts for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
It will be 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13 at 600 Clay St.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .