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Rogersville Back to School Bash

Better than Tax-Free

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What's better than a tax-free weekend? How about a FREE weekend? That is precisely what happened at the Upper Elementary School in Rogersville on Aug 6 for the parents of the Logan Rogersville school district. From 10 a.m. to noon, parents could receive everything their kids need to start the new school year on the right track. Backpacks filled with necessary school supplies, shoes, clothing, and even hygiene products could be found that Saturday. 

The back-to-school bash has been going on for several years thanks to the combined efforts of many organizations and churches such as the Logan-Rogersville PTA, Harvest Community Church of the Nazarene, Henderson Lodge #477, First Baptist Church of Rogersville, Taco Bell, and many others. Each one played a big part in making the Back to School Bash as successful as it has been. 

The backpack portion of the bash first started in the First Baptist Church of Rogersville but quickly grew into the well-oiled drive-through it has become. Mindy Masters, this year's Back to School Bash Coordinator, explains, "We used to do it at First Baptist, and it got so big that we needed to do it here at the school so we could do a drive-through system." This process continued to improve even with a spiky little virus named COVID-19 floating around, "COVID did change the way we did things. When we were at First Baptist, we used to have a one-on-one connection with everyone. They would come in, and we would chat, and even feed them. COVID changed that and we thought, 'We do not want to do away with it; how can we set it up to where we can still help?' So we started doing a drive-through, and it works and flows much better." 

Masters also commented on the surrounding church's jump start on gathering school supplies, "We had our first meeting in June and put in place what supplies we are going to need versus what we have in inventory. We have done this for so many years that we already know what to implement."

The school supplies are available to grades preschool through eighth grade. Parents were asked to fill out a form when they arrived at the drive-through, hand one of the volunteers the paper, and the volunteers would get the backpack for the parents—all for the low price of "free."

Masters mentioned this program could not happen without its volunteers: "This part is all volunteer-based, and several churches within Rogersville have supported it financially and are serving today through their volunteer work. I want to thank everyone that participated. It is a huge deal, and we could not do it without all the volunteers and support from the churches. A huge thank you to everyone and opening their hearts to the community. " 

Parents could also head to the FEMA center and pick up a brand new pair of shoes and even sign up for a free haircut from Shelton Barber Lounge, Aaron Shelton. 

"The PTA and the Henderson Lodge have been working together for at least the past five years with a matching donation. We would donate $5,000, and they would match it," Amanda Larson, the Logan-Rogersville PTA, explained. "This year they decided to double their donation; we donated $5,000, and they gave $10,000. With that money, we could purchase anything we needed for the kids," including a hoard of brand new children's shoes.

If parents had a few more items on their back-to-school list for the kids, they could also visit the Wildcat Closet. The closet accepts gently used clothing they provide to any student. But thanks to the generosity of the Lodge, "Kids get a full school week's worth of clothing. Today, the clothing is brand new, and the kids get a fresh start". 

There were an outstanding 590 backpacks and 450 pairs of shoes ready to find their new home. 

If parents miss out on the free weekend, there is good news. Masters explains, "Any backpacks that are left over, they will be administered to each building aid and nurse for anyone who moves into Rogersville throughout the school year and does not have the supplies they need. Then in December, we will replenish their supply at Christmas break." 

The Wildcat Closet is open the first Saturday of every month starting in Sept. from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and the last Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment. 

Back to school can be stressful, but you do not have to shoulder the burden alone if you live in Rogersville. 

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