The Christian Center of Park City is seeking people to sponsor children, provide new school supplies and clothing, and volunteer for the Back to School Basics program.

The program will provide about 500 children this year with necessities needed for attending school in the fall, such as clothes, shoes and backpacks.

"We're pushing to spread the word before school gets out," Christian Center Executive Director Rob Harter said. "We've found in the last few years that once school gets out it's tough to find people. People have busy summer schedules and they are out of the normal routine of school. That's why we try to capture them before they leave school and get on their radar."

Last year, 150 local residents volunteered to take the children shopping during the Back to School Basics shopping spree.

"Our goal was one volunteer per child, so they could shop with these kids one-on-one with their parents and a sibling," he said. "So we didn't quite get one-on-one, but we had a volunteer for every two children."

Harter said what he loves about the program is being able to shop with the children.

"You get to meet these kids and their families, and there's just this amazing connection" he said. "Just getting to know their stories is very interesting. You know when you give to an organization and you're like, 'Hopefully it goes to a good place. I think it does.' But here when you see the families and these kids picking out clothes, it's for them. It's really powerful."

This year, volunteers will take children shopping on Friday, Aug. 9 during staggered times in the morning.

"We're splitting them into two shifts of two to two-and-a-half hours so it's not an inundation of 100 people on certain stores, because it can get really crowded," Harter said.

Harter said he hopes to provide about $100 for each child for back-to-school shopping that day.

Last year, they had just enough money for each child, thanks in large part to a $25,000 donation from Zions Bank.

"It was so generous, and they are giving us another $25,000 this year, so we have at least half the money we need to work with," he said.

To make up the other half, Harter is looking for sponsors, who are each asked to donate $100.

If the Christian Center does not receive enough money for each child to have $100 to spend, the money per child will be reduced.

"Instead of $100 a kid, it might be $90 a kid. But we will cover them all, even if it's just a little reduced," he said.

The children are also helped by discounts offered by every store.

"It's a lot of money when you get up to a 50 to 60 percent discount. That helps the money go further," he said.

Residents can also help by donating backpacks or clothing to the Christian Center, located at 1283 Deer Valley Drive in Park City. To participate as a sponsor or volunteer, call Special Events Coordinator Linda Lyles at 435-649-2260 ext. 23.