'Village' provides school supplies, services for children

LD Oscar, owner of Elite Cuts in Junction City, cuts the hair of Shayden Engledow, 8, and Russell Matheney, owner of R-Cuts in Wakefield, cuts the hair of Kaleb Guice, 1, on Saturday. They provided free haircuts as a part of the It Takes a Village event hosted at Junction City Church of the Nazarene.

The local community used an old African proverb Saturday as the reason for gathering and provided services.

Hundreds gathered in the Junction City Church of the Nazarene parking lot for It Takes a Village, a community outreach event that provided services for kids as they get ready to start school as well as fun activities.

The event came together as a partnership between JCNaz, the Geary County Health Department, Living Word International Ministries and the United Way.

“We’re getting all the community organizations together to give everybody a jump start to the school year,” said Michelle Hawthorne, community planner assistant for the health department.

Organizers distributed 300 backpacks provided by the United Way with basic school supplies, and the health department provided physicals as a part of the back-to-school event. There was also food, face painting, bouncy houses,

Inside of the church, parents sat as their children received free haircuts.

Tasha Guice of Junction City took pictures as her 2-year-old son, Kaleb, got a haircut. In addition to the haircut, Guice said she got school supplies for her daughter and niece.

“It gets them out of the house,” she said. “There’s things for the kids to do. It’s nice that (the organizations) are giving back.”

It’s all part of a vision that Lindey Martinez wanted when she helped start the event last year. Martinez, compassionate ministries director for JCNaz, said the church previously held an event centered around free food.

“I was really thinking about how to broaden that and make it a better event,” she said. “God told me to talk to Living Word, who was doing a free backpack giveaway, and we decided to partner together. My husband works at the health department, and he said we could do immunizations.”

Martinez said the success of last year’s event drove organizers to do it again Saturday. Organizers said they planned to continue this as an annual event.

“I tell my kids that this is the community that we have come to call home,” Martinez said. “It’s our responsible to take care of our community. To throw an event like this is just one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of. This is great.”

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