Entertainment with a Purpose

MIDLOTHIAN, TX — If gliding down one of the larger inflatable water slides in Texas does not get your juices flowing, then the Euro Bungee Trampoline, where jumpers can reach heights of 24 feet, certainly will. Life Church will be sponsoring the Back to School Bash again this month! If you lean toward more gravity-controlled activity, there will be a huge tent in the middle of the event all decked out with flat-screen TVs broadcasting the game of the day, purely for your pleasure. Two of the volunteers from Life Church who are organizing the occasion are Chanyn Robinson and Monica Franklin.

To enhance comfort under the tent, “We will have tables and chairs for the convenience of the parents,” Chanyn said. “Last year, the Rangers game was on, so it was pretty neat.”

“We wanted to have a place for everyone to come together and enjoy some activities, and it evolved into the Back to School Bash.”

The Back to School Bash originally began as a friendly Fourth of July opportunity provided by Life Church to serve the community. “We wanted to have a place for everyone to come together and enjoy some activities, and it evolved into the Back to School Bash,” Chanyn stated.
Although this is a fun event, the reason for the Bash is to get kids ready for school. Stations are set up for haircuts, immunizations and vision checks. The church receives much local support from within Midlothian and the surrounding communities of Waxahachie, Mansfield, Cedar Hill and Arlington. “We want to ease the number of kids sent home that first day because their hair is too long,” Chanyn stated. “Last year, our event was six hours, and we had so many children we had to turn some of them away. We hope to increase our stylists this year so every child can get a haircut.”
Last year, local hair salons assisted with the necessary equipment for the haircuts, including providing stylists. Some have expressed an interest in returning to help this year.

During the 2011 Back to School Bash, the free vision event was sponsored by Target Optical, and they have agreed to return this year. Clark Dental set up a booth and gave away toothbrushes, dental floss and answered questions.

Several medical organizations volunteered to provide the immunizations with volunteer nurses assisting. This year, immunizations will prove more challenging. “In the past, the organizations could have a shot clinic, and anyone could show up, present their shot record, get their shot and walk away,” Chanyn shared. “With the Patient Eligibility Screening Record, children must be prescreened before receiving free immunizations.” Parents must bring their child’s insurance and shot record. Volunteers will file expenses with the insurance companies for the parents, so in the end, no one will have to pay for  the shots.

The event also features a silent auction to raise money for funds for Manna House. Last year, Technology and Beyond donated a laptop as the grand prize for the raffle drawing. At the end of the school year, Manna House identified the children in need of help procuring their back-to-school supplies. “The silent auction brings in money for Manna House to purchase supplies for school. They will be responsible for putting the school bags together and getting them to the children,” Monica explained.

“People drop school supplies off at the Manna House booth. Life Church supports that by running the raffle for them,” Chanyn said. “We just partner with them and encourage people to come out and bring school supplies. Last year was very successful. The event is free, but the school supplies are in direct relation to the raffle. When you donate the school supplies, you get a raffle ticket.”

Monica added, “We were able to help all of the students in Midlothian who asked for help last year and even had enough left over to pass on to Venus Independent School District. Everyone buys the crayons and colored pencils, but we need more of the 3-inch binders and the backpacks. The bigger items are scarcer, and that’s where the silent auction helps. After seeing what was going on, some participants who didn’t bring school supplies donated money in order to help. The money goes directly to Manna House.”
Besides taking care of the necessities, there are many activities providing some family-friendly fun. “We will have something for every age group — small bounce houses for the little ones, a zip line, a rock climbing wall, live music and other live entertainment,” Chanyn said.

“We will have the choo-choo train for the little ones,” Monica stated, “but we will also have events for the teens, so it is well-rounded. Last year, a high school break dancer came out, and he was a big hit. The concession stand sells typical fair or carnival-style food, with snow cones and cotton candy.” The city of Midlothian joins organizers by having its summertime special event, Movies in the Park, shown in the evening after the festivities wind down. Movie goers can enjoy popcorn from the concession area as they watch the movie Dolphin Tale.

“This really is a team effort,” Chanyn replied. “We have a team for sponsorships and administrative tasks. We have a gentleman who manages the facilities and power, the setup and teardown and someone who recruits businesses for the immunizations, haircuts and vision care. The Cub Scouts come and hand out cold water to all the volunteers. It takes a community effort to be successful.”

That is very clear when considering the vastness of their task. Last year, they had over 200 volunteers. The team also approaches other churches in the area with the invitation to be involved. “Our primary focus is serving the community,” Chanyn stated. “The church body as a whole has a passion for that, and if we can partner with Manna House, the school district and other churches in the area to make this a bigger and better opportunity to serve the community, then the more the merrier.”

Written by Betty Tryon.

Editor’s Note: This year’s Back to School Bash will be held on August 11 from 3:00-7:00 p.m. at MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium.