NORTH AUGUSTA --- Bookbags filled with age-appropriate school supplies signaled the end of a summer outdoor Bible club at Summerfield Park on Tuesday.
Pupils from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade lined up to receive a new bookbag. Then they visited a table full of school supplies.
"I got Spider-Man!" exclaimed 5-year-old Tremelle Simmons. He liked his new bag but was just as excited about a new pair of scissors.
"It's a real help, and it's good that there are people out here to help the kids," said Tremelle's mother, Cassie.
Cross Connection Tuesdays began about 13 years ago at the park with city Councilwoman Pat Carpenter and her daughter Fran Risse. It started with an Easter egg hunt for children in nearby neighborhoods.
"There was a little boy who had kidney disease," Mrs. Carpenter said of that first egg hunt. "It was 40 degrees, raining, he was barefooted, had on short sleeves, and his little tummy was sticking out."
After that she decided more needed to be done for the children.
The eight-week Bible series includes crafts, storytelling and dinner. At the end of the program, children are rewarded for their attendance with free school supplies.
"We just love working with kids, and it's been so beneficial," said Ms. Risse. "It is a wonderful ministry and a good way to witness."
CommuniGraphics and the young married couples class at First Baptist Church of North Augusta, which Mrs. Carpenter attends, donated 100 bookbags. The North Augusta Sertoma Club gave $1,000 to help with the school supplies.
The rest of the program is funded by Mrs. Carpenter and others in the church community.
"Food is about $60-$70 a week," she said.
Mrs. Carpenter said the program aims to teach others about Jesus. "Before they leave we ask them to accept Jesus in their heart."
If they choose not to do so, it's OK, Ms. Risse said.
"They are going to see there is something different about us," she said. "Eventually they will realize it's because we have Jesus."
Reach Crystal Garcia at (706) 823-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.