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Back to School Bash for refugee youth

The fourth annual, Back to School Bash organized by First Presbyterian Church and Grace Presbyterian in collaboration with numerous community organizations will be held on Saturday, August 10 from 10am-3pm. The event provides refugee families with school aged children an opportunity to pick out backpacks and grade appropriate school supplies, as well as a community lunch.

In 2018, more than 260 students were provided with backpacks and supplies. The goal of the bash is to ensure that every refugee child who moves to Wichita during the school year will be able to take their own new backpack and supplies to school on their first day.  

“The first year, the supplies were all donated by our church members at First Presbyterian Church, or purchased with donated funds. Now we have many other church partnerships and community organizations who come together to organize this event. Everything we give away is donated or purchased with donations.” Said the event’s 2018 organizer, Stephanie Bird-Hutchison. Donations of backpacks, school supplies and deodorant can be dropped off at First Presbyterian Church (525 N Broadway). 

The idea to have a fundraiser to benefit school children came when Bird-Hutchison was enrolling students in USD 259. “Originally, we were going to collect supplies and take them to the refugee families at their homes. We decided instead to have the event at a central location, allowing the kids to experience selecting their own backpacks and school supplies. That experience would be more like what other kids get to do, and would hopefully promote a sense of ownership of the backpacks and supplies. We also felt this would give community members an opportunity to interact with members of the refugee community in a safe environment for all,” commented Bird-Hutchison.

During the Bash, each child is paired with one of the event’s volunteers during their selection activity. “I love the excitement of the kids picking out their supplies, and watching so many people from different backgrounds talking and laughing together” shared Bird-Hutchison.

Volunteers are need to help transport youth and their families from their homes to the church the day of the event. If interested in volunteering, please email Alexander.Reazin [at] rescue.org (subject: Volunteer%20at%20Back%20to%20School%20Bash) (Alex Reazin)

Past event partners have included Eastminster Presbyterian Church, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Hindu Temple of Greater Wichita, Pine Valley Christian Church, Presbytery of Southern Kansas, Economy Corner, WRCC, USD 259 and the International Rescue Committee.