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Community spirit strong for Back-to-School Bash

More than 5,000 people were at the Back-to-School Bash at Jonesboro First Baptist Church Saturday. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

More than 5,000 people were at the Back-to-School Bash at Jonesboro First Baptist Church Saturday. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

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Asantae , 1, and his father, Antonio Stilley, hung out in the shade while family members waited in line for school supplies. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

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Eduardo Reyes, 5, smiles while he hangs out in one of the many bounce houses at the Back-to-School Bash on Saturday. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

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Basketball toss was one of the several places to play during the Back-to-School Bash Saturday. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

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The Georgia Identification Child Program was one of the many things available to parents and children at the Back-to-School Bash at the Jonesboro First Baptist Church Saturday. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)

JONESBORO — More than 5,000 people showed up to be part of the Back-to-School Bash at the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro Saturday.

The party started with school supplies then moved on to bounce houses and finally free Chick-fil-A sandwiches.

Children’s youth pastor Jason Hand served as the volunteer coordinator during Saturday’s bash.

“We love our community and this was a way to give back to them.” Hand said.

More than 40 vendors donated supplies and spent the afternoon passing them out.

More than 100 volunteers and 50 Chick-fil-A staff were on hand to keep things running smoothly.

Volunteer Tina Howard, in charge of line control, said she had never seen the bash this crowded.

“This is an awesome turnout and it’s a lot of fun,” Howard said.

The line for school supplies wrapped around the church parking lot and down Church Street. Music and laughter could be heard up and down the block.

Jonesboro resident Yliec Powell brought her 13-year-old daughter and two grandchildren to get school supplies.

“Oh, the kids are loving it,” Powell said. She said despite the line, they only waited for about an hour.

“They really had things moving.”

Powell said that she usually buys school supplies, but things were tight this year.

“They’ve got pencils, paper, bags and composition books — they’re set,” she said.

David Waller, spokesman for Clayton County Schools, said they were thrilled with how everything turned out.

“We have the most amazing kids,” Waller said. “They overcome incredible things and go on to be huge successes.”

For two weeks leading up to the event, the six Chick-fil-A restaurants in Clayton County have been collecting school supplies from customers. In turn, they were given a coupon for a free chicken sandwich. The collected supplies will be delivered to the Clayton County schools.

Forest Park Dwarf House General Manager Eric Stallings said being part of the bash “strikes to the heart of who Truett Cathy is.”

“Giving back to the community is an extension of the values of our company,” Stallings said.