Church offers free backpacks, school supplies and wellness to Durham families

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A parking lot near the Research Triangle Park became a family fun zone on Saturday, for the River Church's Back to School Health and Wellness Day. Organizers planned to help as many as a thousand students prepare for their return to classrooms with free information, advice and materials including backpacks.

Bishop Ronald Godbee of the River Church said, "They're not just backpacks, they're loaded with supplies from the best. That's all we wanted. We wanted our kids to have a good start."

They also set up dozens of boxes filled with free books, with no limit on the amount students could take home to enjoy later.

"Because readers are leaders. So we want our kids reading, we want to give them the tools so that we can make leaders in our community," said Bishop Godbee.

When he says "our kids," he's not just talking about members of his church. Any family who arrived for the day of sharing and caring could help themselves to anything available including wellness opportunities.

"We gotta keep our community healthy, so today we're providing vaccines," he said. "Vaccines that come with a $25 gift certificate for the first vaccination, and we have all kinds of health screenings."

Plans called for all the material they offered to wind up inside someone's home who needs it.

"If they're not, we want another initiative we're doing in Mebane," he said. "But we're gonna be doing another initiative here mid-years because again, kids don't just need supplies at the beginning. Midyear they need us to come alongside them as well. So that's what we're gonna be doing, and it's gonna be great!"

The pastor and his congregation want their material, medical and spiritual assistance to make a difference for all who want to succeed.
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