Organizers of Franklin County’s back-to-school outreach, Project Big Love, have made the tough decision to cancel the July 25 event based on the new COVID-19 restrictions enacted by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Project Big Love was to kick off at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 25, at the Mont Alto Fairgrounds. However, with a spike in coronavirus cases, the state now has a restriction on outdoor gatherings of 250 or more people. While Project Big Love was to be held in a drive-through format this year, Organizer Shon Duty noted his attorneys weren’t sure if they would be subject to legal ramifications if they held the event without a waiver from the governor’s office.Project Big Love was started nine years ago by Shon and his wife, Tammy, of the Kaimon Group and ScrapRight Recycling Software in Waynesboro. Shon said he remembers using Shoe Goo to glue the bottoms of his sneakers together when he was a kid, and wanted to provide new shoes and backpacks to Franklin County children and families in need. The event also features free lunch, groceries, a prayer tent and entertainment for children.
“As far as what it looks like from here, we just don’t know yet,” Shon explained. “We want to say that we will come back bigger and better than ever in 2021. We just want this virus to be over with, and everyone to be safe and healthy.”
Shon said they will continue to pray for another opportunity to present itself before schools are set to open next month. However, the school climate in the fall is also unclear at this point. Many districts are opting to begin the school year with 100 percent virtual learning, while others are offering staggered scheduling that separates groups of students, having them attend school part of the week and learning from home the remainder of the week.
“If another opportunity presents itself before the kids go back to school, we will announce that, but we just don’t know what the future holds,” Shon added. “We just ask that you keep praying with us.”
Shon noted if the restrictions are lifted, and if kids are going to go back to school, then, “I think we should regroup, meet with our leaders, and see if there is an option.”
PBL organizers have reached out to Wolf’s office to see if a waiver can be granted to hold the event in August. However, if an opportunity does not present itself, they are hoping to bring the outreach back next summer.
“Tammy and I want to thank all of our leaders and volunteers for all of the hard work that went into getting ready for this year, and for sacrificing their time and energy for the event. We also want to thank everyone who donated to help support us. Your donations made it possible to host PBL2020. If PBL is unable to obtain a waiver, please be confident your donation has already pre-purchased a large portion of supplies for PBL2021. On the bright side, thanks to your giving, the only things we will have to fundraise for in ‘21 will be the functions we weren’t having this year -- Kids’ Zone, tents, T-shirts, entertainment, and we are still aggressively looking for a grocery sponsor for 2021.”
For updates on Project Big Love, and to support the outreach, visit: www.projectbiglove.org; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or call: (717) 788-4393. Please follow us on Facebook, where many of our updates are posted first, at: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBigLove/.