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Ready, Set, GO!

Six-year-old Arnie Madden’s face lights up as he browses through the selection of backpacks at the Tools 4 School event held on Center Street in downtown Ironton Saturday.

Joyce Fish, of Ironton, had waited since 7 o’clock Saturday morning to get a backpack at the Tools 4 School giveaway in Ironton. The event wasn’t supposed to start until 10 a.m. But Fish, with 14-year-old daughter, Regina Morris, wanted to make sure they got a backpack filled with the school supplies Regina will need in a few weeks when summer break ends.

“This helps a lot,” Fish said. “Otherwise I couldn’t have afforded these supplies.”

Each year St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ironton and All Saints Lutheran Church in the Columbus area partner to assemble school supplies into backpacks they then hand out to area students.

Ben Pack, parishioner at St. Paul, said roughly 1,800 backpacks were assembled.

By the time the event started Saturday, the line of parents and kids waiting to pick up a backpack stretched from the corner of Sixth and Center streets around the corner at Fifth and Center streets, past the Ironton City School administrative Office and almost to the corner of Fifth Street and Park Avenue.

As some people waited for the school supplies, others, who had already picked up their bags, browsed several nearby tables that offered everything from food to literature compliments of other churches and civic organizations.

First Presbyterian offered pencils. In spite of the on-and-off rain, Pastor Jan Williams said, “I’m glad I’m here.”

St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization had free face painting, literature and other freebies. Ohio University, CareSource and the Ironton City Health Department handed out literature and other items as well.

Nearby, First United Methodist Church handed out free hot dogs.

“I always volunteer,” First UMC member Lisa Thornton said. “I love doing things for the community. I want to do everything I can to help with education because I’m a teacher.”

While Thornton handed out food for the tummy, fellow church member John Milar handed out food for thought and the soul: books on the Gospel of John.

“I hope they at least read it,” Milar said. “If they’re not familiar with Christ I hope this opens up a new way of life for them.”