RUMFORD — The Praise Assembly of God church is holding its third annual Culture of Compassion giveaway from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at the DARE Field at Lincoln and Falmouth avenues.

The church and other volunteers will offer free groceries, gently used clothing and school supplies to needy families in the River Valley.

Pastor Justin Thacker said the event was called The Back-to-School Pass Out until 2011 when the church decided to change the name to Culture of Compassion.

“At first, we focused mainly on providing school supplies for families who needed assistance,” he said. “Over time, we expanded to groceries and clothing. It’s become a really good thing for our area. More people are helping out. Some of the town officials are spreading the word and generously donating items to us.”

Thacker said, “I saw a recent study that said parents are spending about $100 per child when shopping for back-to-school items. That’s just for the supplies. That’s not even considering new clothes. If a family has more than one child, you’re looking at anywhere between $200 and $400 to shop for school. We’re hoping that this event can provide a little help to our community.”

For the first time, the giveaway has a theme.


“This year, the theme of the event is going to be Operation Restoration,” Thacker said. “Our goal is to help people live restored lives through kindness, acts of love and compassion.”

Children attending will have the chance to take a pony ride. The rides will be limited to 40 children and who weigh 100 pounds or less.

One event people won’t see this year is the moon bounce.

“Unfortunately, we will not have the moon bounce this year, because the town of Rumford does not permit moon bounces on their property for insurance reasons,” Thacker said.

Resident Marcia Mckenna will discuss animal welfare and pet safety, while Erica Jamison, the administrator for the Praise Assembly of God’s new Christian school, will take questions about the school.

Thacker said he expects this year’s Culture of Compassion to be the biggest yet.


“Last year, we had about 678 residents visit,” Thacker said. “This year, we’re hoping for at least 300 families, and over 1,000 people. We just want to help people out any way we can. With the government cutting back, this is simply a way to let the community know that there are people out there that are trying to help. We’re not looking to be the best church out there. We just want to be a culture of compassion,” he said.

The event will take place rain or shine.

For more information, call Praise Assembly of God Church at 364-3586, or visit the church at 89 Congress St. in Rumford.

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