Although most youngsters are not yet ready to begin thinking about returning to school, a crowd of local residents began educational preparations Saturday at Antioch Baptist Church’s 16th annual Back to School Bash.

To help families trim shopping costs, Antioch church-goers prepared 750 bags containing basic school supplies for distribution in Culpeper Baptist Church’s Worship Center on Saturday morning.

In addition to members of Antioch’s Health Ministry, officers with the Culpeper Town Police Department and other local volunteers turned out to help hand out bags filled with school supplies.

Darlene Brown, president of Antioch’s Health Ministry, has been coordinating the effort for the past 16 years.

“The bags include paper, pencils, glue sticks and crayons,” Brown said. “We also have some scissors and binders to give out to the kids.”

Bags were separated into two age groups—kindergarten through fifth-grade students and sixth through 12th grades, Brown said.

Leftover supplies will be distributed at Antioch, donated to other local churches and offered to local schools to be given out, she said.

“There’s still a need. Each year, it continues to grow,” Brown said of the effort. “We have awesome support from the Town Police, the Sheriff’s Department, local business and the Culpeper Baptist Church.”

This was the third consecutive year the bash has been held at Culpeper Baptist Church, just south of Antioch on South West Street.

Culpeper Baptist Pastor Dan Carlton was among several speakers to welcome the crowd to this year’s event.

He offered a few hints to help students make the most of the coming school year, which begins Aug. 12 for Culpeper County Public Schools.

“This is kind of a symbol that your community is rooting for you,” Carlton said. “We want to invest in you. If you run into problems and you wonder, ‘Does it matter?’ Well, it does matter.”

Carlton offered a list of “B’s” to help the students in school: Be rested, be ready, be kind, and be curious.

In addition, Carlton told the crowd that his church will begin hosting “PACT nights” on Tuesdays starting Aug. 20.

An acronym for People and Communities Together, Carlton said PACT will bring together local volunteers and agencies to provide a variety of services, including school-age tutoring, Graduate Equivalency Degree classes, and English as a Second Language and Spanish lessons.

Town police Lt. Ashley Banks also greeted people at Saturday’s bash, saying that all the students’ dreams begin with their education.

“Whatever you want to do, it starts here,” Banks said.

Antioch Pastor Adrian Sledge told the crowd that the annual Back to School Bash is his favorite activity of the year, because he gets to so many people from the community who turn out to get a jump on the school year.

Sledge called out each local elementary school to get their students cheering, following it up with a shout out to older students.

“Where are my angry middle-schoolers at?” he asked. “We can’t have a back-to-school event without teenagers with attitude.”

After the speakers’ remarks and the awarding of door prizes, families in attendance lined up along opposite walls of the Worship Center according to age group to receive bags of supplies. The bags were distributed by church members, police and other volunteers manning tables in front of the room.

Sledge said he felt that this year’s event went very well, estimating that between 250 and 300 local residents attended on Saturday.

“We just want to do our part to help the community, and we also want to help introduce the young people to community leaders, like the town police,” Sledge said. “It opens the door for them to see positive community leaders so that, if they should need help one day, they feel more comfortable asking for it.”

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