By Isabel Rodriguez

Back to School Bash a big splash


August 7, 2019


ANTICIPATION: Kids and adults waited in line at one of the bouncy houses at this weekend's Back to School Bash.

For 13 consecutive years, Sunday Sutton has found herself at the same spot every year, celebrating education in a Back to School Bash event on the courthouse lawn in Goldendale.

Sutton is not alone. She is joined by numerous volunteers, community partners, churches, and public service agencies. The Back to School Bash event, sponsored by the Goldendale Church of the Nazarene and generous community partners, started with a desire for outreach into neighboring communities by Pastor Thomas and Marybeth Fender, who then turned the event coordination over to local resident Sunday Sutton. Sutton started hosting the event with the aid of the Church of the Nazarene, and it has since grown into a much anticipated community event. When asked why she continues to host after all this time Sutton states, "This is true community."

The event focuses on education with an opportunity for participants and families to engage with community service partners that donate their time and school supplies for school age children. Along with the numerous children, there are numerous parents. Nikole Nice, a local parent, has attended before but this time brought her own children. "Kids get to interact with each other before they go back to school, and it's great for parents to interact, too," she said. "We need this."

With over 450 school bag supplies, 20 filled backpacks, and 10 empty backpacks, the supplies that are donated for low-income families are much appreciated. Items included in the school bag supplies and back packs are the list items by grade the school district provides to parents before the school year begins.

This yearly free to the public event doesn't just supply much needed educational supplies-through generous donations and budgeting, the families and participants of the event get to enjoy face painting, three giant bounce houses, cotton candy, yard games, cold drinks, and more. And let's not forget the hot dogs provided by the women from the American Legion who have participated every year since the event started 13 years ago.

Among the many volunteers, the Washington State Patrol is in attendance for the second year in a row. Patty Best, who provides car seat safety and inspection, shares, "Some parents are apprehensive because they know their children are not in the right car seat. Education is why we are here, and this year we have seen better attendance." Her hosting partner, Trooper L. Dean Gallanger, adds, "We have a Kidssafe website where parents can find a local car seat technician, and we are willing to come to you free of charge."

Also second-year attendees are the local Kiwanis, hosted by Joellen James and John Everhart, who provide free books to families and participants attending the event. "We do what we can for the community," states Everhart.

The Back to School Bash was once again a success, and anyone wanting more information and to donate backpacks can get in touch with Sunday Sutton, as the program will use any extra backpacks to serve some of the other surrounding communities in need.


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