With the start of the school year around the corner, Family Fun Day and Blessing of the Backpacks made it a lot easier for local families to get their school supplies Saturday.

The annual event, hosted by the Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Memorial Lutheran Church and King’s Kettle Food Pantry, was held at the Shippensburg Fairgrounds and drew hundreds of area children and their families. Visitors received bags filled with goodies, such as backpacks, school supplies and hygiene items. A variety of vendors were also set up to provide information to visitors on what services and organizations are available to them in the community.

“This is a great way to give kids what they need to start the school year,” said Sue Piper of Memorial Lutheran Church. “To be able to team up with the chamber this year is a great opportunity for us all to provide a much needed service to the community.”

Piper organized the Blessing of the Backpacks that was traditionally held at Memorial Lutheran, on the same day as Family Fun Day. “We were both basically doing the same thing and providing the same kinds of products and services, so we decided to work together, which looks to have been a pretty good idea judging by the turnout so far this morning,” Piper added.

Children were able to choose a backpack and fill it with everything from pencils, paper and notebooks, to markers, hygiene items and all sorts of other goodies that will help get them started as they begin the school year next week.

Five-year-old Noah Wilson will be starting kindergarten this year, and was so excited that he was able to find a Marvel backpack. “This is really neat; I’m glad I found this cool backpack.” His mom, Mendy Kennedy, said she felt the event was really helpful to parents, as well as children. “I think this is a great event, and I’m grateful the community provides something like this for the kids, and also for me as a parent. There are a lot of folks out there who can’t afford to go out and shop for supplies for their kids, and if they have more than one child, it can be a very expensive, so this type of an event is great,” Kennedy said.

Pastor J.R. Wells of King’s Kettle Food Pantry and his crew of volunteers were on hand to help distribute household items, toys, and a variety of other needed supplies to anyone who came through the lines Saturday morning. “We were here early to set up, and by 10:30, there were almost 100 people already in line, waiting to pick up supplies,” Wells said. “We expected a big turnout and we have lots of stuff for families to choose from, so were really happy to see families come out and take advantage of the opportunity to pick up supplies they need to help the kids get off to a good start this year.”

Wells said there is a huge need in the community for events like the Family Fun Day, and he and his wife, Rhonda, and his staff of volunteers are happy to be a part of the event each year. “It’s great to see folks coming out and getting what they need.”

In addition to a huge selection of items to use in the classroom, the commercial exhibits building also housed a wide variety of community-based organizations offering information about their services, including the Boys & Girls Club of Chambersburg and Shippensburg, the Shippensburg Aquatic Club, Scouting, Shippensburg Community Outreach Coalition and local churches. The event was a great way to connect families and children with people and organizations to provide resources they need to have a successful school year.

Main sponsors for Family Fun Day were Volvo Construction Equipment, DB Schenker and the Shippensburg Community Fair. Other partners and/or donors include: Vigilant Hose Co., Robert T. Henry Pharmacy, H&R Block - Shippensburg, SHAPE Gallery, Pepsi Co. of Newville, JA/LEX Real Estate Services, David Barrick, Dixie Parr, Shippensburg Moose Lodge #2500, Shippensburg Kiwanis Club, Messiah United Methodist Church, Shippensburg Church of the Brethren, AE Bounce Houses, The Magic of David Wayne & Miss Penelope, Papa John’s, Weis Markets, Giant and Chambersburg Rental.

“Thank you to the various nonprofit organizations, first responders and businesses who participated, as well as the MANY, MANY volunteers who helped with all areas of the event, including planning, set up, tear down and other tasks!” Wendy Forrester of the Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce said.

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