BURRILLVILLE/GLOCESTER – A Chepachet-based church has teamed up with a statewide organization that aims to help families in need to be school-ready, and handed out new backpacks filled with supplies in Pascoag on Saturday.
Glad Tidings Community Church received the supplies from Kids, Cops and Classrooms, an organization that joins the forces of the Rhode Island State Police with business sponsors including Ocean State Job Lot and Cardi’s Furniture.
“They have collected new backpacks and new school supplies, and donated 100 backpacks to our organization to pass out to our local community,” said GTCC Children’s Director Amy-Beth Vasconcelos.
Vasconcelos said the church stumbled upon the organization within the network of the RI State Police while organizing Glad Tiding’s fall festival. A group from state law enforcement brings a rollover/crash simulator to the annual festival, and attends to discuss seatbelt safety with local children and their parents.
Kids, Cops and Classrooms holds school supply collection drives throughout the year, also accepting donations at the state police barracks, local departments and sponsor businesses.
Two years ago, Vasconcelos says she connected with State Police Capt. Kenneth Jones, and he asked if the church would like to become a participating community organization.
“This year, they included us in their back to school backpack and school supplies drive,” she said.
Vasconcelos noted that initially, the church had planned to only distribute the resources to the families regularly served through Grace’s Food Pantry, run by GTCC volunteers at 111 Victory Highway.
“With the excess of donations, we felt it would be best to serve the families in the community who could use a little extra help this school year,” Vasconcelos said. “As a parent of two middle-school aged students myself, I am increasingly aware of the struggles we have been facing in our community to adequately provide for our families.”
“Parents need a village, and it is our mission at GTCC to serve these families; we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” she added.
Vasconcelos noted that the church will also pool resources this winter to hold a toy drive to help struggling families provide their children with gifts for Christmas.
“It is such a blessing to be a part of these projects and we are honored to be a blessing to our town,” she said.
The backpack giveaway event was held at Brigido’s Fresh Market at 54 Sayles Ave. in Pascoag on Saturday, Sept. 2.