While shopping at Lowe’s Hardware in Troutman, the cashier commented on my t-shirt.

“Oh, you’ve heard of the Back to School Bash?”

The Back to School Bash is an annual event held at Mooresville Middle School and it supplies 1000ish students with free school supplies, backpacks, tennis shoes, and all in a fun, festival-like atmosphere. It was founded by a combination of West/Williamson’s Chapel folks, and for the past 12 years has been helping equalize students in their prep for going back to school.

When it began, we had no idea how it would be sustainable.

A $50,000 budget, 300+ volunteers, and more often than not, a logistics nightmare.

But, year after year, we heard that it mattered. That it made a difference in their lives. Parents and grandparents have shared they were able to use the money they would’ve spent on supplies on other necessities for their kids to start school.

For 12 years we’ve been a part of people’s lives. We’ve watched individuals who once “came” to the Bash and then volunteer their time and resources for the event in the subsequent year.

This year the event is directed/managed by a brother/sister team who 12 years ago spent their summer riding around in the back of a shopping cart with their mom while she purchased hundreds of pairs of tennis shoes for the event. It is amazing how it comes full circle.

At Lowe’s that day, I responded, “Yeah, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the Bash for a while.”

“It saved my family and me a few years ago . . . I was a senior in high school, my dad lost his job, and my mom was undergoing treatment for a diagnosis none of us expected. It had been the worst summer, and it was time to return to school. My little brother desperately needed new shoes, the ones he was wearing had holes all in them, and he was too embarrassed to tell mom and dad. Then we got one of those prerecorded messages inviting us to the Bash. We went and it was amazing! We got cotton candy, free books, clothes, and school supplies. My little brother got a brand new pair of tennis shoes, and they even offered to pray with us for the upcoming school year. I’ll never forget the generosity of those people. Isn’t it amazing what can happen when people pull together to make something happen?”

In today’s world, where our theological content and spiritual development can come with the click of a button, we might find ourselves searching for “why” we should identify with a church or even a religion.

There are many facets to the answer to that question. But a significant one is . . .

the power of community.

The power of what we can do together!

Working together, we can accomplish more good in this world than we would ever be able to accomplish if we were working individually or apart from one another!

Next Saturday is the Bash. I hope you have some time to help out that day . . . Or next Sunday, be a part of a “No Huddles” (no 10 am service at the high school, the message will be only online) as we work to finish up Bash things afterward. (You can see more details below).

The first few years we started Bash, we received more criticism and “nay-sayings” than imaginable. All the while we were trying to also launch a new faith community. It was an impossible, draining summer. Yet, here we are. We are just a “part” of it now because it is so much bigger than us/West.

The power of community.

I am grateful for the privilege of being a part of this one!