By Rebecca Jones

A party – with purpose – occurred at Janosik Park in Laurel on Saturday, Aug. 13, drawing at least 100 children and their families. Festive music played by Highest Praise Productions filled the air, as The ARK Educational Resource Center held its annual backpack giveaway.

The ARK supplied backpacks for children grades kindergarten through 12. Before they were given away, those who wished to participate needed to sign up at the ARK’s registration table. Participants received two tickets: one for a free lunch, and one for a filled backpack.

Robbin Thompson distributes bookbags at the ARK Educational Resource Center’s backpack giveaway last weekend. Photo by Rebecca Jones

Outlining the games area were a myriad of tables, chock full of information and services to benefit the community. Most tables had items to give away, from information and pens, to candy and water bottles, and more. Most tables had school supplies to give away.

Organizations that helped The ARK Educational Resource Center create a fun atmosphere for those in attendance during the sunny, yet pleasant day included Laurel Wesleyan Church, Delaware State Police, Laurel Public Library, Delaware Health and Social Services, Delaware State Fire School, Mast Audiology, Contact Lifeline, Boys and Girls Club, 88.7 The Bridge radio station, The Salvation Army, Children and Families First, La Red Health Center, Love INC, and Vital Church.

Besides music, there were games and a face painting table. People cheered on those both young and not so young, who took part in the potato sack races. As some tumbled to the ground, squeals from participants and onlookers alike filled the air. 

Stacy Lane, youth services librarian in Laurel, said they made and gave away over 100 bags. “We gave away new shoes, comic books, school supplies and personal hygienic bags. We considered this a very successful day.”

Jarod Mast, who was at the event supporting his wife – Shekinah Mast of Mast Audiology – said, “It’s a great day. It was a wonderful way to get the community to work together as we give away things for the kids today.” 

As people packed up their tables and headed off for the day, the leader of The ARK reflected upon the day. “The event was awesomely successful,” said Joyce Sessoms. However, she did express some concerns, as well. “We had but two children signed up for tutoring at this event. Not only do parents need to enroll their children in school, they need to enroll them in tutoring, and not wait until they get the second report card.” 

Wallace Handy – volunteer board member at The ARK– wrapped up the day with these words: “It was a great event. A lot of resources were available. It was a great opportunity to network, and for parents to see what’s available for them. This was a great opportunity for the community. Events like this are good for the community; they help make us stronger.” 

For those who are still in need of a backpack, those who wish to volunteer as a tutor, or for those who need a tutor for their children, Sessoms said to contact the ARK Educational and Resource Center at 302-715-5318.