Last year, the Old Town Mission held its inaugural Operation: Back to School event at Clemenceau Museum, donating a much-needed resource to local families.
In a single day, the mission gave away over 500 backpacks filled with school supplies. It was an undeniable success, but for this year’s event on Saturday, July 30, General Manager Kellie Wilson and Assistant General Manager Jill Sweet have upped the ante considerably.
“The Old Town Mission has a goal to fill 800 backpacks with school supplies to be given away to K-12 children right here in the Verde Valley,” Wilson said. “Our goal is to have fully-loaded backpacks with all the school supplies for every child that may need a helping hand to begin the school year equipped and ready to learn.
Wilson added that the backpacks and school supplies are available to schools and other local agencies in the Verde Valley that contact the mission throughout the school year.
“Last year proved to be a big success with different businesses, community organizations and churches partnering with us to make it a fun family celebration complete with food, bounce houses, game booths, prizes and entertainment,” Wilson said. “This year, we anticipate a larger turnout of families and greater community involvement.”
Nonetheless, according to Wilson the mission will need help reaching its goal. Locals have ample opportunities to step up.
“With all the planning, the setup, running the event and teardown, 100-plus volunteers will be needed,” Wilson said. “Raising funds and donations often proves to be a challenge. However, by word of mouth, faithful volunteers, along with the help of our community, we know that this goal will be reached.”
The mission will be at Walmart on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. collecting school supplies in front of the store. Any donations can be dropped off at the Old Town Mission, the Mission Thrift Store or Draxler Insurance.
“The driving force behind the Old Town Mission is neighbors helping neighbors,” Wilson explained. “We really believe that the Verde Valley lives up to that statement. We repeatedly see this in action. This community has a big heart and truly wants to impact lives .... We want to encourage everyone to take just a couple hours to be a part of this event and witness firsthand the joy and smiles it brings to the children and their families.”