Getting ready for back to school

Urban Mission offers free school supplies, clothing, furniture

SCHOOL SUPPLIES — Urban Mission Ministries will be hosting its Back-To-School Bash from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 15, with giveaways of backpacks and school supplies in front of the mission church on North Street in downtown Steubenville. During those same times, the day also will bring a free children’s clothing distribution at the Seventh Street Plaza and the giveaway of furniture and household goods in the parking lot of Urban Thrift at 644 Market St. Getting ready for the outreach are mission representatives, from left, the Rev. Ashley Steele; Tiffany Beckwith; Cynthia Lytle, holding son, Wayne; Juanita Slappy; and Vanessa Slappy. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — In Cynthia Lytle’s estimation, there’s a lot to like about Urban Mission Ministries’ upcoming Back-to-School Bash on Aug. 15.

“I enjoy seeing the kids’ faces,” said the mission’s program director and community developer. “I enjoy seeing them be in the moment and walk away with a back pack. Some of them stop and just open it up to see what’s in there before they even leave Urban Mission ground,” she said. “Then you also see relief in parents’ faces, because it’s one less thing they have to worry about before they send their kids back to school.

“I love the excitement of the day. I enjoy our volunteers. This is an event where we get a large amount of volunteers, so it’s pretty cool to get that many people show up for one thing,” she said of the annual tradition that showcases community support.

The bash will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on North Street in downtown Steubenville, featuring a performance by the Steubenville High School Marching Band, free food, games, informational booths, giveaways and music.

About 1,400 backpacks filled with school supplies will be available to area students in grades preschool to 12, according to Lytle.

“We always ask that children be present on the day of distribution,” Lytle explained, noting that the mission will be joining with several other community agencies “who will partner with us for the day, so they’ll get to stop by those tables and hang out with those folks, and they’ll have some items for the kids and families as well.”

The mission is continuing to accept school supplies, specifically crayons, two-pocket folders, college-ruled filler paper, wide-ruled filler paper, one-subject college-ruled notebooks, one-subject wide-ruled notebooks and college-ruled composition books. Items can be brought to the War Memorial Building at 423 North St. Financial donations also can be dropped off, mailed to 423 North St., Steubenville OH 43952 or given online at www.urbanmission.org.

“We always can benefit from donations of school supplies,” said the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission’s executive director.

“We ask the community to participate by financial giving to Urban Mission or by bringing in school supplies really up until the day before,” Steele said.

At 2 p.m. on Aug. 14, staff and friends will gather the day before the bash to pray over the book bags at the War Memorial Building. Anyone is welcome to participate.

“We always put a little note in the bookbag that says this bag has been prayed over,” Steele said of the time of prayer for children and their families about to begin a new school year.

“It’s a special thing for us as well as we prepare to be present in the community — a way to come together and do something special,” Steele said.

Volunteers and vendors interested in being a part of the bash are encouraged to contact Tiffany Beckwith, the mission’s community engagement director, by phone at (740) 282-8010 or by e-mail to tbeckwith@urbanmission.org.

“Volunteers are crucial to the success of this event,” Beckwith said, estimating another 20 volunteers are needed. Churches, organizations or businesses that would like to set up a table and have a presence at the event are welcome to do so.

In addition to the giveaway of backpacks and school supplies, the event will offer two other ways to help families in need. There will be back-to-school giveaways at the Seventh Street Plaza, featuring free children’s clothing, and free furniture and household goods in the parking lot of Urban Thrift at 644 Market St.

Both giveaways will happen from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, call (740) 282-4851.

“We know that clothes can be an issue sometimes for folks, so we want to be able to get those into the hands of the parents,” Steele said.

“This is one of those days we’ll have a lot of people downtown, so we want to have all our services available.”

Beckwith said the mission welcomes anyone with children’s clothing to donate for the giveaway — sizes 4T to 12th grade. They can be brought to the Urban Thrift store.