Back to school supplies given free at Reach Church on Saturday

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
Volunteers for Reach Church (from left) Megan Hensley, Patty Hensley and Ronda Freund check out the variety of free backpacks available at the "Back to School Bash" Saturda in Pratt.

Shoes, backpacks, plastic sacks and hand sanitizer were free for the choosing Saturday, Aug. 8 in Pratt as the Reach Church provided an alternative to the Sharefest event in Lemon Park. The church’s food truck provided free cotton candy, sno cones, water melon and pop corn. Free grilled hot dogs and three inflatables (obstacle course, bouncy house and slide) were also available. 

Like many other activities, Sharefest became a victim of the COVID-19 crisis. At Sharefest, local churches joined together and provided area families with free items like were offered at Reach Church on Saturday. Also available at Sharefest were free haircuts and family portraits. 

When Sharefest was cancelled, Reach Church decided to do as much as they could to provide needed items for children in the community. 

“We did it to bring hope to families in the Pratt community and surrounding communities,” said Rev. Bryan Beittel of Reach Church. 

They renamed the event “Back to School Bash” and staged it in the Reach Church parking lot. They made heavy use of their Facebook posts, word of mouth and lots of people called, wanting to know if a Sharefest was going to 

happen. But there were many who were not aware of the event.

The event was slated to start at 9 a.m. but Beittel said some people came to the church as early as 7:30 a.m. to make sure they could get the items they needed. 

The church used their own funds and a $1,500 Walmart grant to pay for the items. People in the church also donated funds for the project. 

Beittel said there are a lot of needs in the community and the church can reach out to people and show them God’s Love in a tangible way. 

“This is needed even more so in the season were in now,” Beittel said. “This is a good picture of people loving people.” 

Safety measures were in place with all volunteers wearing gloves. There was limited access to the shoe area that was inside the church basement. After one family unit left, the seats were wiped down for the next family. 

Church members volunteered for the event as well as church members from the Preston Church. 

Preston Church minister Rev. Dr. Ken Stanton said his church family just wanted to help out and be a blessing to someone. 

“Any time we can reach out and show the love of Christ, we need to be on it,” Stanton said. “Living in these times with so much uncertainty, people need something to hold onto and the church is the answer.” 

For those who missed the event, Beittel said leftover items were available and will be given out first come-first serve. He asked that those needing school supplies call the church at 620-672-2384 to set up an appointment to pick up items.

The church will also be a pickup point for more than 900 free produce boxes this week. 

The Reach Church is located at 1000 East Sixth Street in Pratt.