Lake City bash gives kids boost for start of school

The third-annual event offers haircuts, physicals and supplies for free.


Published: Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 12:20 a.m.
LAKE CITY - Parents and children began showing up before dawn Saturday for a chance to be among the first inside Christ Central Ministries when the church opened at 8 a.m. Instead of arriving for a religious service, the families were participating in what is becoming for many a traditional end to summer vacation - the Back-2-School Bash.
The bash provided almost everything kids might need to return to school, all for free. Donations and volunteers from the church and elsewhere in the Lake City area made it possible for children to get a sports physical, haircuts and pick up a bag of school supplies at no charge.
"This is an outreach for our church, and when moms start showing up at 5:30 a.m., it shows you how much they want to be able to help their children prepare for school," Senior Pastor Lonnie Johns said.
When the event began three years ago, it attracted about 600 children. Last year it drew nearly 800 and this year volunteers said it appeared about 1,000 children from pre-kindergarten through high school attended.
"I have two daughters who are 5 and 6 years old, and without this, they wouldn't have had haircuts before school started and they would have had to wait awhile for me to get their school supplies," said Lisa Jensen as she watched nine beauticians and a barber clip, cut and trim their way across dozens of little heads. The haircutting crew averaged about seven minutes per child.
Joanne Amrhein, the retired beautician who helped organize the haircuts this year, said those who are still working in beauty salons and barber shops gave up one of the most lucrative days of the year - the last Saturday before school starts - to cut hair for free for a very specific reason.
"This is a labor of love," Amrhein said. "Without this, a lot of children would have gone back to school shaggy. This makes them feel better about themselves - more confident - and it is a blessing to us to see the looks on their faces when they are done and know they look good."
Next to the haircutting station several community groups set up displays, including the Lake City Police Department, which was offering free fingerprinting.
"This is something that the parents can take home just in case they ever need it to help identify their child," said officer Lavaughn Wynn, who volunteered to spend his day off rubbing ink on tiny fingers and then pressing them onto the big white cards.
Christie Lawrence, who coordinates the annual event, is a public school teacher who said she has seen in her own classrooms the need for many families to get help preparing to send children back to school.
While youngsters were waiting to get a haircut or pick up a backpack, they were entertained by a volunteer making animal shapes from balloons. They were offered a hot dog lunch and given seats inside an auditorium where a team called Power Unlimited - Christian athletes who give demonstrations of physical strength - encouraged the youngsters to stay in school and graduate.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@ gvillesun.com.

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