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Back2School receives Harvest Youth Board grant

August 3, 2017

The Harvest Youth Board is helping area students get ready for the new school year with a $5,000 grant to The Community Fellowship for its Back2School 2017 event.

Back2School is in its 10th year of serving local students by providing them with shoes, clothes and backpacks full of school supplies. Pastor Michael Harrison, organizer of the event, said they plan to serve more than 2,500 students with around 600 volunteers at nine sites in Martinsville, Henry County and the surrounding area.

Karli Foster, incoming chairman for the Harvest Youth Board, said, “The Back2School event is a well-known program in our community that has a great impact on the youth; it provides more than just school supplies. It gives students and their families the ability to be prepared for school and not have to stress more than they should. This event reaches so many people in our community. We felt it was an incredible opportunity to try and help out.”

Harrison said Back2School has grown tremendously since it started a decade ago.

“It’s gotten bigger, and bigger and bigger,” Harrison said. “We first learned of a need like this 13 or 14 years ago from a missionary in Appalachia. They were doing shoe boxes, like Samaritan’s Purse, with school supplies. What we found out quickly is that a little bit goes a long way to bless these kids. I said, ‘We can do that here.’”

Harrison said during the first year of Back2School, they served 75 students. The second year, that number shot up to 500, and the third year, they served more than 1,000 students.

“After the third year, we began distributing shoes, and after that, other churches joined us from different locations throughout the community.” 

The nine locations for Back2School 2017 include First Baptist Church, Ridgeway; Fairway Baptist Church, Bassett; Mercy Crossing, Martinsville; The Community Fellowship, Collinsville; First Presbyterian Church, Martinsville; St. Paul High Street Baptist, Martinsville; Mercy Church, Stuart; Moffett Memorial Baptist Church, Danville; and Woodlawn Church of God, Austinville.

"What we found out quickly is that a little bit goes a long way to bless these kids."
- Pastor Michael Harrison

Harrison said although there are nine locations for distribution, more than 25 churches donated volunteer time, funding and supplies.

“It’s awesome to serve the folks in need in our community,” said Andrew Hall, chairman of the Community Dream Center Board of Directors, fiscal sponsor for The Community Fellowship. “Pastor Mike is dedicated to serving our community, and we’re thankful for his work to prepare our students for a successful school year.”

A dollar goes a long way within Martinsville and Henry County, but dollars here also reach children across the world. Harrison said for every $20 raised per student, $3 goes to purchase a World Shoe through Samaritan’s Feet, which protects feet against contaminants in soil that cause sickness and disease.

According to the World Health Organization’s 2013 study, more than 1.5 billion people are infected with diseases that are transmitted through contaminated soil. Since 2003, Samaritan's Feet has provided more than 6.5 million pairs of shows in 88 countries and 325 cities in the United States, according to its website.

Back2School will distribute at its nine locations on Friday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 5. Find out more by visiting The Community Fellowship on Facebook or its website,

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