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Austintown church holds Back-to-school Blowout

August 16, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Highway Tabernacle is hosting a free clothing giveaway to help families with their back-to-school needs this Saturday. The Back-to-school Blowout will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church with a free lunch and a chance to get some nice clothes for the start of school.

"This event is open to the public and is on a first-come, first-serve basis," said event co-chair Jessica Theis. "There are no income or residency restrictions."

This is the second year for the event at the church. It all began prior to the 2011 school year when Theis and another friend exchanged clothing. She said her friend had a baby and the two women got together and exchanged children's clothing. When it was over, Theis looked at the exchange and realized just how much money she had saved.

"It was at that point that God moved us to help others," Theis said.

Along with a few other church women, Theis approached senior Pastor Jonathan Moore. After he heard what they wanted to do, he gave his approval and the first Blowout was held.

Last school year, one was done in August and another in March. It proved to be a bit much and the women decided to go with just August. Last year's August giveaway saw 200 families taking part.

As for the clothing, much of it has come from church members and through community contacts. One in particular has been a big help. Theis said a store called Raks in Liberty donates clothing that has been on the racks for a long time without selling.

"You'll see some of the clothing with store tags still attached," Theis said.

Leading up to this Saturday's event, Theis and co-chair Tracie Corll held several sorting nights to place the clothing in appropriate age and size categories. On Saturday, the volunteer list could grow to as high as 30, which includes a kitchen crew who will provide a free lunch for attending families.

She said everyone is welcome to come and take advantage of the program. She said bags will be provided as well as childcare for preschoolers and toddlers so adults can shop.

Theis said she does expect more families this Saturday than last year. She said the economy continues to put a drain on families' budgets and she is proud to have a program that helps out.

"I am honored to be a part of this program," she said. "I hope to keep it going for years to come."

The church is located at 3000 South Raccoon Road near the intersection of Kirk Road. The event will be held in the church's Family Life Center.



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