PORT RICHEY — Students heading back to classrooms soon got a boost from benefactors who gave away some 160 backpacks Saturday.
Somebody Cares Pasco brought together churches and local businesses to the Port Richey fire station for the event.
Anthony Ford, 5, and Mackenzie Collard, 8, were among students who got the free packs and then stopped by the Salvation Army canteen for refreshments with their folks, Albert Ford and Natasha Tucker.
The vision “comes from caring for the community, things that can really help, particularly families struggling to get back” on their feet, the Rev. Leonard Lord, pastor of Light of the World Tabernacle, explained.
“With the backpacks, we’ve got two prayer rooms,” Lord continued, “so we hope to be able to pray for them, encourage them and then do some followup if there’s anything else they need.
“It’s not necessarily just a one-time thing,” Lord said. “But it’s a caring of the community to help one another.”
Volunteers prepared the backpacks in a room at the fire station, including Joann Ratterree, McKayla Gooden and Cliff Umphlett, an elder at Light of the World Tabernacle.
Manning the popcorn machine during a break, the Rev. Eugene Ganaway explained one of the missions of Impact Family Ministries, where he is lead pastor. To aid the homeless, the ministry at 8020 Washington St. offers a food pantry, hot showers and meals. The group also is working with a coalition to provide housing.
A series of similar events is taking place throughout West Pasco, Lord added. Later on Saturday, the Back-2-School Bash at Refuge Church in the Holiday area gave away some 500 backpacks as well as offering haircuts for children.