UCDC & REACH Hold Carnival and Distribute 150 Backpacks of School Supplies to Local Children in Need

A new back-to school outreach project Saturday got a double thumbs up Sunday night from the leaders of two organizations coordinating to help kids two to 18 years of age.

Upstate Carolina Dance Center and REACH (Reaching everyone as Christ Hoped) joined hands Saturday to try to put needed school supplies in the hands of students at West End Elementary, Gettys Middle and Easley High schools. The event was titled Back-To-School Block Party.

They gave away all of the 150 backpacks filled with supplies specific to the students. It was the brain child of Heather Owens and her Upstate Carolina Dance Center. “It went really, really, really great,” Owens said Sunday night of the 4 p.m. Saturday event at West End Elementary School. “God was all over it. It rained Saturday afternoon; then the sun came out. We got backpacks to girls and backpacks to boys and had one pack left over.” They have since found a recipient for that item.

Owens makes volunteer projects part of her program to the competition teams of dancers she teaches from Upstate Carolina Dance Center.

In the past the dancers have worked at soup kitchens, visited nursing homes and made, dinner and treats for local firefighters. She believes it important for her students to work with kids who don’t have some of the advantages that they do. “They (the dancers) need to know how fortunate they are to get to do this (dance studies). They are fortunate. These kids need to get an opportunity to do something they can make a difference.

Then through Chris Wilson of the Dream Center in Liberty, Owens was connected with Odom.

Odom has been working with Pure Grace, an outreach program to school aged children based out of Westgate Apartments. Within the last few weeks, he has organized REACH, serving school-aged kids and based in West End Elementary School.

Owens estimated 4OOpeople total showed up for the Saturday event. That included her dancers, parents of the dancers, student recipients of the event, their parents plus volunteers.

“We had 120 to 140 of our kids,” Odom said. “Every backpack was given away.”There was a truckload of pizza that got given out and two snow-cone machines going non-stop for a couple of hours. They had a great time. There were two carnival rides and inflatable’s and the lines stayed full the entire time,” he said.

“The folks from UCDC put out a huge effort. This offer from them was huge for our kids.”

He believes the dancers received something from interacting with the REACH kids. “You could see how some of these girls and guys wrapped themselves up in our kids

They got to see how they could make a difference for someone,” Odom said. “Some of their parents were able to make a connection with the parents of our REACH kids,” he said.

Owens said she believes her students were able to make a difference for the REACH kids. “They really enjoyed it,” she said of the students from REACH. “They were opening backpacks and looking through the supplies. They had a good time,” Owens said,

REACH is a student based organization that recently began meeting on Wednesday evenings in rented space at West End Elementary School.

Most of the volunteers come from Mount Pisgah and Mt. Airy Baptist churches, Odom said. In the last two weeks, 60 students have met.

“We try to provide a constant in their lives. We have a snack, play some games and have a Bible study. We just try to listen to them and talk to them,” Odom said.

Article from The Easley Progress Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This event was held on 18 August 2012. Great job UCDC! Keep Shining on!!

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