Back-to-school help offered, but are families accepting?

MILLERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The line at Millersburg Assembly of God was out the door Wednesday for the church’s fourth annual free back-to-school yard sale.

“I think we all know that going back to school is expensive,” said Pastor Justin Gruber. “I think the average student going back to school spends well over a couple hundred dollars.”

The First Day, First Impressions event is a partnership between the church, Dauphin County Commissioners and the Northern Dauphin Human Services Center. Families can leave with bags of gently used clothing and shoes as well as new school supplies like notebooks and backpacks free of charge. Items are donated to both the church and county and offered to the community in a yard sale-style setting inside the lower level of the church.

“It’s designed for people of all backgrounds, not just those in financial need,” Gruber said. “We want to help everyone and bless them. As an example, we had a father this evening who said that he had lost his job and wasn’t sure how they were going to buy supplies to go back to school.”

That father represents a success for the program: reaching struggling families who are willing to accept help. Gruber says the challenge is convincing others that accepting help is not an admission of failure but an acceptance that you are willing to put your children’s needs, in some cases, above your own pride.

“Sometimes it’s hard to let yourself be blessed,” said Kelly Gruber, an event organizer. “I think when people show up and they realize we’re all in the same boat, that nobody is singled out, that is what we’re here for. We all have kids. We all need stuff. Nobody is going to think twice about it. Come out and be blessed.”

Another free yard sale event is scheduled this week for families in the Halifax Area School District. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 18 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 19. For more information including location, contact Donna at (717) 896-3118.

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