WEST UNION, Ohio — Church 180 held another record-setting Back-to-School Bash this year on Aug. 1.
The Back-to-School Bash has been a passion project for over 15 years, following Michael and Talitha Parks from their former church in West Union to Church 180 in Seaman.
While COVID-19 may have prevented the usual festivities held during the Back-to-School Bash, the pandemic did not deter the crowd, as they served over 300 children with supplies and over 400 children with clothing.
“Michael and I have always done the Back to School Bash. We used to, it would be one of the projects I would do at my previous church, so when we started this church, that project just came with us, because we always want to do things for the kids and community and for the children, and that’s where our hearts at. So, since it was our initiative to begin with, when we transferred, it kind of just came with us, and we’ve done it since we started, so this is our seventh or eighth year since we’ve been here,” said Talitha Parks.
The only affect the pandemic had was the way the Back-to-School Bash was managed. This year, parents were asked not to bring children, and to limit one adult per household. Backpacks and supplies were displayed in a labyrinth of chairs, which occupants followed through to peruse the selection.
“We did make an announcement that if you are symptomatic, you’re not supposed to be here; masks are optional. We have some medical professionals, so they know if anyone is looking symptomatic or not safe to be around, they are going to be asked to sit in their vehicle, and we’ll do their shopping for them,” said Talitha Parks.
The hours of the Back-to-School Bash were also extended from 10 a.m to 2 p.m., to prevent overcrowding. Tables were sanitized every 30 minutes, and bathroom facilities sanitized after every use.
During its successful run, the Back-to-School Bash has helped thousands of families.
“Other churches usually come and they’ll set up a table as well and pass out supplies, but with everything going on, they just donated and dropped their supplies off. So, we have about, I would say 10 other churches in our community that have helped either financially or came to sort clothes, or actually bought supplies and brought those in as well. So, it’s a group effort,” said Talitha Parks.
Talitha Parks said that they begin to collect clothes for the Back-to-School Bash as soon as their Christmas Sharing Program is done.
“We had several ladies from the Union Hill Church that came and helped sort the clothes and get them ready. The Latter-Day Saints were here this morning, they stayed for a few hours, some of the missionaries. The boys were here sorting clothes and moving them around for us, but we usually have, I’d say just for the Back-to-School Bash, right around 50 volunteers from about five different churches as far as physical help,” said Talitha Parks.
Louden Community Church contributed 50 to 60 backpacks full of supplies. Several businesses have also donated, though wishing to remain anonymous.
“We’ve just been blessed with a lot of support everywhere, and a lot of great people. So, we’ve had, it looks like, we’ve had at least 100 bags of clothes go out, if not more, already,” said Talitha Parks.
Over 400 backpacks had been laid out, and the selection had been greatly diminished as the Back-to-School Bash neared its end.
“People are like, your church is always doing so much. We couldn’t do half of what we do if it wasn’t for all the people that help. We are so willing to work with other ministries, and that’s why we have such a huge success. So, Darlene Anderson with Catholic Charities helps us with the food pantry at different times, she’ll help me get volunteers if I’m low that week, and I help give her food for different families, so we don’t have a problem working with other ministries, and I don’t have a problem asking for help when I need it,” said Talitha Parks.
After Aug. 1, the clothes are bagged up and re-donated to other clothing pantries. On Monday, Church 180 planned to open their doors for families who couldn’t make it on Saturday to rummage over the remaining school supplies and backpacks.
“It’s just our honor and privilege to get to serve our fellow Adams Countians,” said Michael Parks, pastor of Church 180.