Pencils, glue, and wide-ruled notebooks moved down an assembly line as volunteers stuffed backpacks from the inside of the Church of the Deliverance on Saturday morning for its book bag giveaway.
The volunteers were focused and moving quickly — no time for chit-chat.
By noon, 925 backpacks were stuffed with the essential school supplies needed for note-taking, research projects and any class assignments a teacher might make for the school season, and sent out to eager families of children from Pre-K to eighth grade.
The event, now in its 10th year, is named after Mary Turner, a former church member and foster mother to 64 children.
“My mom believed in giving back to her community, in helping people, and that what love is, is what love does,” said Turner’s daughter Brenda Shackelford
Also present during the event was Killeen Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick and Killeen Police Department Homeless Outreach Team Coordinator Kyle Moore, Councilman Gregory Johnson and Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra to offer words of encouragement and gratitude to the church for supporting the community.
A donation was also made to the church by an anonymous member of Exit Realty. Church members were on site to offer free snow cones, hot dogs, and hamburgers, as well as to conduct voter registration.
Coordinator for Mary Tuner Day, Victoria Davis, with the help from volunteers that traveled as far as Dayton Ohio, wanted to ensure that children from Killeen started off the new year on a positive note.
“We want each child that is heading back to school has at least some of the supplies needed to start off the school year, feel confident about going back to school, and help relieve some of the stress that it may cause the family.” Davis said.
Davis, who is also a Pre-K teacher at Ira Cross Elementary School, knows firsthand that not having these items can be a disadvantage for a student. With the help of the church, she seeks out opportunities to connect with the community, she said.
It may just be notebooks and pens, but the Mary Turner Day symbolizes the community’s support of its children, she said.
“Something as simple as this shows the community cares,” Davis said. “Here’s an unseen hand that has cared for you.”
For parents like Tiffani Woods, a mother of three children, events like these mean a great deal.
“It’s a little rough this time of year; you know, it always is — going back to school, getting school clothes and school supplies for the kids,” Woods said. “Events like this really help a lot. We really do appreciate all the help.”