A church with campuses in Mesa and Ahwatukee aims to help hundreds of needy kids start the new school year on the right foot by giving them school supplies.
Generation Church – which has campuses at 1010 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa, and 11832 S. Warner Elliot Loop, Ahwatukee – is throwing its annual Back to School Bash 9-11 a.m. Saturday, July 28, at both sites.
“This is a time kids should be excited about going back to school,” explained Brendon Hoorneman. “They shouldn’t be worried about whether or not they’ll be prepared. But far too many young people don’t look forward to going back because they don’t have what they need to succeed.
“Backpacks and school supplies can be expensive and many families are finding it difficult to purchase these supplies each year,” he added. “That’s why Generation Church decided to do something about it.”
Congregants donated backpacks and school supplies and this year plan to hand out 1,000 backpacks from the people in the church.”
The church held its first bash three years ago at its original Mesa campus, then expanded it to its Ahwatukee campus two years ago after acquiring the site through a merger,
“The first event showed the need was even bigger than they had anticipated and the church passed out over 300 backpacks full of supplies,” Hoorneman said. “The next year they doubled that amount. Between their two campuses, the church gave away over 600 backpacks stuffed full of supplies.”
The church looks at the bash as putting a core belief into practice.
“Generation Church exists so that people far from God can experience new life in Jesus,” Hoorneman said. “That new life is one full of people who love and support one another. This event shows, in a tangible way, the love God has for us by the church showing love to the community.”
He said the event is all about “supporting and loving kids” and “showing them that they are important and that the people of Generation Church believe in them.
“That’s why over 200 volunteers came together last year to pull off this Back to School Bash. These kids need to know that God thinks they’re valuable and worth the time and the resources that go into making this event happen,” he added.
Besides school supplies, the church will offer haircuts and will have food, games, face painting, inflatables and other goodies – all free. Kids in kindergarten through senior year in high school are welcome. However, to get a backpack, all children must be accompanied by an adult. Attendees do not have to be members of Generation Church.
“The church believes in celebrating with these young people and helping them get ready to face the new school year prepared and excited,” Hoorneman said.
Some recipients of the church’s charity have thanked Generation Pastor Ryan Visconti and the volunteers.
“A lady last year cried when we told her we could give her kids a free haircut,” Hoorneman said. “And many of the kids are just in awe that they get to pick out and keep their backpack, their faces all lit up are just so worth it.”