Columbus Baptist Association to give away about 2,000 bags of school supplies today
By ALLISON KENNEDY
The book bags had been stored in a shed, ready to go. Stacks of plastic bins labeled by grade contain the bags and additional school supplies. In Roni Ragan’s office at the Columbus Baptist Association, an overflow of bags filled the floor. Today, all the supplies — some 2,000 bags filled with them — will find a home.
It’s the 10th Annual Kits 4 Kids, sponsored by the Columbus Baptist Association.
“We’re limited to 2,000 this year because of lack of resources. The top was 2,800 two years ago,” lamented Ragan, aware of the lingering pinches of the recession.
All supplies are free to children, who must be accompanied by an adult. As well, adults seeking supplies must have the students with them. The event is at the Frank D. Chester Recreation Center on Benning Drive.
Everything has been donated by the 52 churches in the Columbus Baptist Association.
Along with the supplies, the following services will be offered: medical and dental screenings; haircuts for children; games; fingerprinting; and refreshments.
The Rev. Eric Hammond, missionary at the Baptist association, will give a brief gospel presentation to attendees. Such a presentation occurs each year of the giveaway.
Hammond said he grew up in poverty in Florida, and his father was an alcoholic. The night after he and his brother visited a local Baptist church, the youth minister and some of the youth pulled up in the family’s driveway. Their father was passed out drunk in his recliner, Eric Hammond recalled. He was 17 at the time.
“We tried to hide,” he said. They didn’t want the group to know about their father. But the youth minister was persistent. Eric eventually opened the door. “That (night) changed my life.” Later, through the influence of another man from the same church, Eric’s father got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous, and both of Eric’s parents came to faith in Christ like their children.
He likens their conversion to an infection — and that today’s event can be infectious for entire families like his.
“My faith has never rested. It’s amazing what God will do in a life,” he said.
A slight but likely welcome change from previous years: Guests can form a line indoors at the recreation center, rather than wait outside in the heat. As they wait, magicians will keep them entertained; and other volunteers will come along and talk to them.
“So many times, people can feel like a number, like they’re being herded through,” said Ragan, whose office contains a verse from Matthew mounted prominently on a wall: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Guests do not have to account for income.
“We don’t care where you’re from — across the river, or Cusseta, or if you’re religious or non-religious,” said Ragan, a ministry assistant at the Buena Vista Road campus. “All you have to do is have a need and be there.”
In addition, Ragan stressed the giveaway is today only. Any leftovers will go into next year’s supply.
“We’ll be starting next week for next year,” she said.
Though Ragan is involved in the project year-round, her favorite time is today, when the children receive their book bags. “It’s all about the children,” she said. “I feel like Santa Claus.”
Allison Kennedy, reporter, can be reached at 706-576-6237.