More than 250 fully-loaded backpacks given to area students in Pratt earlier in August

Edward J. Naughton
Pratt Tribune
A Reach Church food truck provides treats to families participating in the annual school supplies and backpack giveaway in Pratt.

Pastor Bryan Beittel of Reach Church organized and led the annual back-to-school supplies outreach event at Reach Church in Pratt on August 14. His fellow team members at the church assisted him in gathering hundreds of back-packs filled with school-related supplies pens, paper and spiral notebooks, and they passed all these items out, plus more out to any family who had children getting ready to return to school this year.

Beittel said that more than 250 back-packs were passed out to needy children who came to the event with their families. Also handed out free were dental kits with toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and miscellaneous items.

Many young families from Pratt and the surrounding area participated with students from kindergarten all the way up to high school level benefitting from the outreach event.

"This is an annual event for us. A lot of families look forward to this event because it signifies hope to the community and even the surrounding communities," Beittel said.

While there were monetary donations from the Reach congregation to help fund this event, Beittel said Wal-Mart funds in the form of a grant helped provide the many back-packs filled with various items passed out to children.

Local barbers and hair stylists were on-hand to offer free haircuts to kids and their family members as part of the event, which also included bouncie-house inflatable fun and food in the form of french toast with syrup, snacks, fresh watermelon and cool drinks.

Beittel has been the lead pastor for Reach Church for about the past six years. He said that in years past when they had this back-to-school bash, many other churches in town joined in this effort, but that changed when the pandemic struck last year. When others backed off because of social distancing worries and COVID-19 concerns, he decided to take up the mantel with help from his congregants to host the event both last year and then again this year, without recruiting help from other churches.