ENNIS — The faith based back to school program, Give A Kid A Chance (GAKAC) is gearing up for its annual back to school event scheduled to take place from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Tabernacle Baptist Church of Ennis.
Marty Nelson has been involved in the program for the past few years, but is serving his first year as director of the organization. He said this is their main event, and he is looking forward to seeing how this year’s back to school event will impact the community.
“The mission of the organization is to meet the immediate needs of students whose families are struggling with economic challenges by providing back to school supplies, and connecting those interested to local faith and service providers,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the way they strive to accomplish that mission is by three main objectives.
“As we approach this event, there are three main objectives we’re striving for,” he said. “We first want to meet the physical needs of every family. And the way we will go about doing that is by providing uniforms and school supplies for the children.”
Nelson added that meeting a physical need is their way of creating a credible and lasting relationship with the children and their families.
“The second goal is to meet the emotional needs of the families,” he said. “We want them to know they are not alone, and that the Ennis community will stand with them.”
During times of diversity people need to know someone has their back, Nelson related. For the children and families involved, he said that’s the people of the community and those in the organization.
“The third goal is to meet the spiritual needs of the families,” Nelson said. “We have made ourselves ready and available to have a sincere and compassionate conversation about a relationship with Jesus. We believe this is the single most important need we can meet – helping someone find their way to Christ.”
The August event will provide every registered child with a new school uniform, a backpack full of school supplies, haircuts and health screenings. The event also provides each child’s family access to numerous local organizations that provide services to economically disadvantaged families.
He said there are two aspects of GAKAC that makes it particularly effective at serving and attracting people and sponsors.
“Because we are organized into fourteen special purpose teams, it is easy for someone to find a team that’s doing something or providing something that connects at a personal level,” Nelson said. “GAKAC provides an opportunity to not only serve others, but also grow emotionally and spiritually as an individual.”
The special purpose teams are there to aid the children and their families’ needs. Nelson said the newest special purpose team will be the literacy module at this year’s event.
“We have made a connection this year with Half Price Books,” he said. “They have agreed to provide us with more than 3,000 children’s books to give away at the event. Each child will be able to take home two to three books that they can call their own.”
He said the other aspect is because the volunteers represent all segments of the community, and they (GAKAC) are able to bridge societal, financial and religious barriers that might otherwise make it difficult for people, businesses and churches to make a connection and work toward a common goal. Nelson said GAKAC is truly representative of our entire community coming together to make a difference in our neighbors’ lives.
Nelson said it’s not too late to volunteer, donate or sponsor a child. The cost for sponsoring a child is $30. For more information or to make a donation, contact Marty Nelson at 972-921-4794.
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