(Sept. 1, 2022) More than 160 backpacks, plus a large amount of school supplies, were collected during the inaugural Back to School Bash held last Saturday in Ocean Pines.
Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue said about 150 people attended the event, which included games, water slides and moon bounces for children.
The backpacks and supplies will be donated to local schools through nonprofit Worcester County GOLD, which collected the items on Saturday.
Recreation Program Supervisor Kyle Jarmon organized the Back to School Bash on behalf of the Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Department.
“The event went very well, and I thought we had a great turnout,” he said. “For a first-time event, it was nice to see so many people come out, drop off supplies, and just have fun.”
Jarmon said 169 backpacks were donated, along with scores of loose school supplies.
“That was a lot more than I expected. Being a first-time event, it’s hard to have a good gauge on how it’s going to go, so it was nice to have this be the result. There’s going to be a lot of kids getting a lot of good stuff,” he said.
“Honestly, my mind is blown by the whole thing,” Jarmon continued. “I didn’t expect it to be that big of a turnout. And I can’t wait to see what kind of improvements we can make in the future, to make it even bigger next year.”
Donahue said she was grateful to everyone who attended the event, and especially to those who donated supplies.
“We’re very happy to have supported such a worthy cause, and we know Worcester County GOLD will put those supplies to good use,” she said. “For our first event, this was very successful.”
Worcester County GOLD Executive Director Nicholas Cranford said the increased cost of basic needs, including school supplies, continues to squeeze Worcester County residents. Because of that, annual donation drives are vital to the success of at-risk students in the county.
“We are so thankful for the incredible amount of school supplies the Ocean Pines community donated to support this event and its mission to prepare local children for the school year and reduce the burden on families with low income,” Cranford said.
“Thanks to supporters like those who contributed to this event, GOLD is providing school and grade-specific supplies for over 400 local students identified as needing a helping hand. Together, we’ve helped these students toward equitable education and allowed them to blend in with their peers.”
Along with annual school supply donation drives, Worcester County GOLD provides financial aid for housing, utilities and food insecurity, and items for children and vulnerable adults through its Emergency Financial Assistance Program.
Worcester County GOLD’s “VAULT” stores basic items for children (diapers, wipes, clothing, and infant items) and vulnerable adults (hygiene bags, food bags, and clothing).
Housing assistance is applied to prevent eviction, secure a rental, or for emergency shelter. Utility assistance is applied to prevent the disconnection of, or reconnect utility services like water, gas, oil, and electricity.
Additional programs include summer activities for at-risk youth, Thanksgiving turkey meals, and Helping Hands for the Holidays.
Cranford said all requests for help come from trained social workers on the front lines of community needs. Worcester County GOLD partners with the Worcester County offices of Social Services, Board of Education, Health Department, and Maryland Access Point.
GOLD also provides immediate aid while the partnering agency works to establish long-term solutions to prevent future emergencies.
Worcester County GOLD is currently seeking businesses and organizations to sponsor the upcoming 25th Anniversary Gala scheduled for Oct. 7 at the Ocean City Fontainebleau Resort.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.WorcesterGOLD.org.
For more information on Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks programs, visit www.oceanpines.org/web/pages/recreation-parks or call 410-641-7052.