Christian Center’s Back 2 School Basics returns to help students in need
Park Record intern
Pete Stoughton, director of programs at the Christian Center of Park City and a father, knows how important it is to make sure children in Park City are equipped to handle this school year no matter what shape it takes.
To that end, the Christian Center’s Back 2 School Basics fundraiser returns this month for its ninth consecutive year to help children in need and their families shop for school clothes and supplies. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event will be three days long this year, rather than one, taking place Aug. 17-19 at Outlets Park City. Registration is online for both attendees and volunteers at ccofpc.org/. Families whose children are registered in the Park City School District and qualify for free or reduced lunch can register to schedule a time to participate.
This year, more than ever, Park City needs the community to pitch in and help, Stoughton said. Because of Park City’s reliance on the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, many families have experienced job losses or are living on reduced paychecks. To sponsor a child, people can donate money online at the Christian Center’s website. Children and their families are then given a $100 gift card to go on a shopping spree for back-to-school clothing and supplies at the outlets.
Stoughton explained that, when students have the opportunity to make their own decisions in what they wear and are given the ability to develop their own style, it can reduce social stigmas and other barriers that can make school more difficult.
“What makes (Back 2 School Basics) a little unique in comparison to other programs … is that, rather than students being given the clothes that we picked or that we have available, the students and the parents are able to pick their own items.” Stoughton said. “The emphasis of that is really giving parents the dignity and the autonomy to guide those decisions.”
Due to the coronavirus, the Christian Center is implementing a number of safety precautions, Stoughton said. For one, there will not be more than 10 families shopping at a time. Also, the number of volunteers present at any time will be limited. Masks are required.
The success of the event hinges on the community’s participation no matter what the circumstances are. Stoughton said the Christian Center is relying on Parkites to step up and donate money, as well as needed supplies (such as backpacks, books, pencils and pens) to supplement the items the students will purchase at the outlets.
“Typically it’s been super successful,” Stoughton said. “We’ve been able to register and provide for as many students that have been identified as low income or free and reduced lunch here in the Park City School District.”
The Christian Center is also accepting donations of personal protective equipment to add to students’ school supplies.
“It’s critically important that our kids are clothed appropriately and prepared for whatever element of school that is going to come back,” Stoughton said. “It takes a community to make sure that everyone has access to the same resources.”
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Debate continues about schooling in a pandemic, as Park City students petition to stay in school, 78% of secondary teachers opt for remote, and case numbers remain low ahead of a feared post-Thanksgiving spike.