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Community event to give backpacks

Posted: July 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.

More than 2,000 children will make their way to Iglesia Vida Real to receive backpacks and school supplies for the school year.


Next Sunday, more than 2,000 children and their parents will flock to Iglesia Vida Real to receive backpacks and school supplies in preparation for the start of the school year.

Last year, Vida Real, the Spanish language ministry of Real Life Church located at the Savia building in Newhall, hosted the Back-to-School Festival and passed out 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to children from surrounding communities.

This year the church hopes to do the same, but on a much larger scale. Vida Real also added a new perk to the event. Each child will also be offered a free haircut, another way the church is helping children prepare for the school year.

“We show the love of God by helping to meet some of peoples needs,” said Pastor Mario Ortiz of Vida Real. “We care about our community and want to help.”

Ortiz explained this is a way for the church to help children get a good start for the upcoming school year. He highlighted the importance of education. Offering backpacks and school supplies is one way to help give children the best start to a good education.

The Back-to-School Festival, Festival de Regreso a la Escuela, will be held Sunday, August 3. Two church services will be hosted at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. with backpack giveaways and haircuts following the services.

Children in grades K through 6th will receive the gifts. The two church services also feature live Latin style music in a festive atmosphere.

Orlando Flores helped organize the event and the volunteers last year and will be doing the same this year. He said Vida Real hosts the event as an outreach to the community, but it goes beyond that.

“Serving people is an act of obedience to God,” said Flores. “As a believer in Christ we are called to serve others.

That means serving others unconditionally.”

During the two short services a brief message will be given by Ortiz followed by a blessing.

“We understand parents want their children to be safe,” Ortiz said. “Many of them work two jobs, so their children may walk to school alone. We offer a blessing of the children to offer God’s protection over the kids as they go to school this year.”

Volunteers also walk the crowd thanking them for attending and offer them personal prayers. Many parents happily welcome the volunteers to pray with them, asking for prayers for other family members or health concerns.

“We pray with them and hopefully help them get closer to finding God,” said Annie Yerovi, event volunteer.

Bigger goals

Flores explained he, like many of the volunteers, enjoys seeing the gratitude the parents and children express after receiving the gifts.

“This is an emotional event for many of the attendees,” said Flores. “Many of the parents and kids are surprised and have never received gifts like this, even from family members. It really touches your heart on a level that is not commonly done.”

Some attendees recently immigrated to the U.S. and have difficulty settling in to a new culture and new school.

The giveaways offer them a boost to start their new life, focusing on education, explained Flores.

Many families were introduced to Vida Real through the event last year. Attendance was boosted more than 100 percent following last years event. Yet gaining new members wasn’t the main goal.

“We want to preach the gospel and show people we care about them,” said Ortiz. “If they come to church great, if they don’t, that’s okay too. We still care about them.”

Flores expressed an even bigger reason to continue these events.

“The true purpose behind this is to allow people to experience Christ through an act of receiving,” he said. “They can experience Christ’s love through a free backpack, a handshake, a hug, a smile or a prayer.”



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