MARC VALERO/STAFF From left: Nayelin Sanchez and Jabdiel Rivera sport the firefighter hats they received from the West Sebring VFD during the backpack and school supply giveaway Thursday at Sunridge Baptist Church, Sebring.

SEBRING — Dozens of smiling kids and thankful parents picked up backpacks filled with school supplies Thursday at Sunridge Baptist Church.

Sunridge Baptist hosted its annual back-to-school backpack giveaway event, which included free haircuts and a fire engine for the little ones to check out from West Sebring Volunteer Fire Department. West Sebring also gave away plastic firefighter hats and pencils to the kids.

The backpacks were filled by church members with the required school supplies for the specific grade level of the children who received them.

Sunridge Baptist Pastor Tim Finch said, “We are just trying to bring folks in and provide free haircuts and get the basic school supplies for all the kids.”

The school supplies and backpacks came from donations for the effort.

“Walmart came through for us; Publix has helped us out and our church body did most of it and donated and of course the fire department [West Sebring Volunteer Fire Department],” Finch said.

West Sebring VFD firefighter Josh Young handed out the firefighter hats to the delight of the kids.

“We are here to show fire safety,” Young said, and answer any questions about the fire truck and show the kids the fire truck. He said the children were able to look inside of the truck and make sure they are not scared of it.

“When they see us in full gear sometimes they get scared,” Young said. “So we show them we are human just like they are and no different from them to keep them from being scared of us.”

Lauren Bolyard thanked the Sunridge Baptist Church family for the backpacks and school supplies for her two little ones, Hayden Steele, 5, and Skylah Steele, 2, who had big smiles. Skylah received a pink backpack while her brother got a gray one.

Sunridge Baptist Church is at 3704 Valerie Blvd., Sebring, just off U.S. 27.


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