Operation Back to School took place on Sunday in Fountain Park. (DHI Media/ Jim Langham)
Operation Back to School took place on Sunday in Fountain Park. (DHI Media/ Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Operation Back to School 2019 brought over 700 school students to Fountain Park on Sunday afternoon to receive the likes of donations of school supplies, clothing, good food and other rewards provided by churches in the area as well as many businesses and individual donors.

Churches who banned together as collection points for this year’s event include Trinity United Methodist Church, Calvary Evangelical Church, Trinity Friends Church, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Kingsley United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Pentecostal Way Church, Apostolic Church, Olive Branch Church, St. Mary Catholic Church, Countryside Church of the Nazarene and Rockford Belle Community Church.

“This is so awesome; they are number one in my books,” commented Karen Hire. “It’s so nice to see the community get together for the start of the school year.”

Darla Dunlap, one of the leaders of the event noted that this year’s “Back to School” provided school supplies for over 700 people.

In addition to churches who helped make the event possible, Dunlap referred to businesses, Van Wert Rotary, United Way, community organizations, and schools who helped.

Dunlap said that over 100 volunteers were present earlier in the week for packing, while another 100 helped set up the park and at least 60 individuals were volunteering Sunday afternoon during the event.

“Then we’ve got the tear down crew coming,” said Dunlap on Sunday afternoon.

“This is a real good deal, good for the families and good for the community,” commented parent Robert Flynn. “It gives kids good social interaction and provides them a good sense of giving to others.”

Samantha Blaze who has five children in school referred to the event as “amazing.”

“It helps out a lot,” noted Blaze. “It’s a big blessing. It does plenty of good.”

Many of those present turned the operation into a family event. Hot dogs, chips and other goodies were provided to those who were there. Many families shared their food under shade trees or at picnic tables.

“Grandma Marsha Powell,” who brought her grandchildren to the event, said that it’s hard to put into words how much members of the city appreciate the help.

“We really appreciate it; it’s really awesome how this helps out,” commented Powell.

“We think it’s wonderful,” commented Kerri Thomas, a mother. “We really appreciate the way this community takes care of its youth.”

“It’s a great help for kids and chance to save money for clothes,” added Nancy Miller.

“God is so amazing the way He has blessed us the last five years,” said Dunlap during continued sign-up in the First United Methodist Church. “He has given us wisdom, guidance, and follow through for all of this.”