By Traci Chapman
Mustang families will get a helping hand Sunday, with Clear Springs Church’s The Big Give.
This year’s event – its ninth annual – is expected to serve about 600 students and their families – 100 more than last year, Clear Springs pastor Jim Harris said. In 2017 the church and its partners gave out more than 300 backpacks with school supplies, clothes, haircuts and more.
The Big Give effort has grown steadily through the years, most recently with a major jump in 2016, when needs greatly surpassed those of previous years, the pastor said.
That’s when organizers developed a pre-registration system, which allows them to guarantee backpacks and supplies to those who signed up.
The Big Give came about after church officials and members saw there was an unmet need in the community that some students’ families were having a difficult time paying for school supplies and the backpacks needed to carry them. Families are chosen on the recommendation of school counselors and administrators who are familiar with their individual circumstances, Harris said.
While supplies and backpacks filled a need, other things also helped students heading to school in just a few weeks, the pastor said. Historically, area stylists provided close to 100 free haircuts during the three-hour event. Clothes are made possible, in part, thanks to a partnership with the Hub – which provided back-to-school outfits, coats and more, the pastor said.
Mustang Police Department will again have officers at the site, handing out Ident-A-Kid kits and talking to students and their families, while volunteers with Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center were expected to again provide popcorn. Harris said members were also expected to set up bounce houses and offer pizza and drinks, as in years past.
The Big Give is made possible, first and foremost, by members of Clear Springs’ congregation, but the effort has become a truly community endeavor among residents, houses of worship, businesses and more.
“I love the fact that this event now features multiple churches coming together to serve our community as one,” Harris said.
While some businesses have donated supplies, funding and more, organizers could still use help with funds to purchase pizza and to help pay other expenses, donations that are tax-deductible, Harris said.
“Anyone who wants to donate, volunteer or help in any way can go on our website, www.clearsprings.org, or call 376-0921 and let us know,” the pastor said. “If anyone knows of a family that could use this assistance, please encourage them to go to our church website and pre-register.
The Big Give will be held from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. and will follow a designated schedule:
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Pre-registered last names A-H
3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. – Pre-registered last names I-Q
3:45 – 4:15 p.m. – Pre-registered last names R-Z
4:15 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Anyone who hasn’t pre-registered can register on-site and participate until supplies are gone.
Clear Springs Church is located at 921 N. Clear Springs Road in Mustang.
“It really is a blast to give back to our community and play a part in making life a little better for others,” Harris said last year. “For our Clear Springs Church family, it’s simply another way for us to live out our mission of building a lasting faith in Christ by serving.”