It’s back-to-school time, and City Councilman Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.), CityReach Church and The Block Gives Back on Saturday helped students get ready for the big day.
The 6700 and 6800 blocks of Torresdale Avenue were closed off for a daylong series of activities and giveaways.
Henon’s office is on the 6700 block, while the church and The Block Gives Back shop are on opposite sides of the 6800 block.
The councilman’s office and the church arranged for numerous vendors, while The Block Gives Back — as part of its annual Block 2 School initiative — gave away about 1,000 book bags filled with pencils, notebooks, folders, pencil cases, gluesticks, erasers, pencil sharpeners, rulers, packets of tissues and bottles of hand sanitizer.
“Mission accomplished,” said The Block Gives Back’s Hakeem Ruiz. “We had a lofty goal, and we filled the book bags with a bunch of essentials, including hygiene essentials.”
Meanwhile, Henon’s office and the church teamed to, among other things, hand out 2,500 hot dogs, water ices, snack bags and water bottles.
“We do it to be a blessing to the community,” said Pastor Mark Novales, whose nondenominational church, at 6814 Torresdale Ave., is open seven days a week. “We try to provide hope for the city. A lot of healing needs to happen.”
This was the fifth year that CityReach has had an everything’s free back-to-school party. The first two took place at its former home, Northeast High School. In addition to traditional services on Saturdays and Sundays, CityReach offers outreach on alternating Fridays to young people ages 12-18 and young adults 30 and under. Novales said he wants CityReach to be a church that matters and one that promotes unity.
The day also included a musical performance by the church worship team, anti-violence prayers in English and Spanish, fresh popcorn, balloon art, face painting, arts and crafts with the Tacony LAB Community Arts Center, a new book giveaway by Tacony Library, an inflatable slide, a moonbounce, dental care in a 40-foot-long truck provided by St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children Community Oral Health Initiative, a bungee/trampoline, boxed food giveaways and appearances by state Reps. Mike Driscoll (D-173rd dist.) and Joe Hohenstein (D-177th dist.) and Councilman Isaiah Thomas (D-at large).
The offices of Henon, Driscoll, Hohenstein and state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. (D-5th dist.) had information tables. ••