More than 3,000 school backpacks distributed during the One Day of Community in Manchester

New Hampshire Union Leader
July 26. 2014 8:42PM
The One Day of Community Celebration sponsored by the Manchester Christian Church and the NH Fisher Cats drew hundreds of Manchester city students and their families to Sheridan-Emmett Park on Beech Street in Manchester Saturday morning to receive backpacks loaded with school supplies and enjoy a festival celebration with music, food and games. Over 3300 backpacks were prepared to be distributed and 450 volunteers were on hand to help run the event. Twenty area vendors contributed with booths for free food and services as well as entertainment. Manchester Christian Church volunteer Jessica Beaudet organizes some of the thousands of backpacks to be donated to Manchester school children at the event. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - Any impending dread felt by children receiving back-to-school supplies Saturday was offset by one heck of a recess at Sheridan-Emmett Park.

The kids were able to quickly turn over to their parents the blue bag full of pens, pencils, notebooks and other items, then dash off to bouncy houses, carnival games, face painting and hotdogs during the One Day of Community sponsored by Manchester Christian Church and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Lisa Mazur, outreach coordinator for the church, said 3,300 bags of supplies were distributed and more than 5,000 people attended the event, which started at 10 a.m. and was still going strong a half-hour before it was scheduled to shut down at 2 p.m.

"Our goal of this day was to get every under-resourced student in Manchester the supplies they need for the year and also provide a free day of fun for families who just can't afford that kind of thing," Mazur said. "We just wanted everything free and just for them to come and chill in a safe environment."

Alexander Taylor, 10, was taking a break from the fun and enjoying the new black and white skull paint job on his face.

"I've played games over there, and I won a bunch of prizes," he said.

Meanwhile, his 3-year-old sister, Allison, popped out of her stroller to show off her kitty cat face paint.

The Fisher Cats brought the inflatable giant slide and other attractions from the kids' zone at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium as well as Fungo, the team mascot.

"We wanted to make things fun for the kids when they came," said Buddy Bajerski, community relations manager for the Fisher Cats. "Fungo came down just to go around and talk to the kids. People could not be happier that he was here."

Fisher Cats staffers also were handing out tickets donated by Granite State Paint, one of several sponsors that helped MCC and the baseball club make the event happen.

Well Sense Health Plan provided the blue bags for the school supplies, which were donated by MCC parishioners. There were also more than 500 volunteers helping in various capacities at the park across the street from Beech Street Elementary School.

Mazur said a smaller drive would happen closer to the start of classes to provide teachers with classroom supplies that some have typically purchased out of pocket.

She said those plans would be finalized after everybody involved in Saturday's festival had some time to rest and recover.

"This was busy the minute we opened the gates," she said. "It was crazy right off the bat."

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