About 2,500 backpacks, stuffed with highlighters, pencils, paper and other school supplies are tucked into a storage area at Mountain Ridge Church in Dillsburg.

Other area churches are overflowing with boxes of spaghetti, cereal and additional food. On Saturday, all of those supplies, plus sneakers and other goods, will be delivered to the Northern York school complex in Dillsburg to give away to families for free.

It's a part of Project Big Love, an event spearheaded by Ken Landis, pastor at Mountain Ridge.

The goal of the day is to offer families in need the necessary resources for the back-to-school season. The event is modeled after a project in Franklin County, which gave more than 2,500 people free backpacks, shoes and haircuts last August.

The event has more than 375 volunteers from businesses and churches ready to distribute the supplies, offer a free lunch and guide people through the maze of specified tents where children can receive free hair cuts, take a family photo or be fitted for the right size of free sneakers.

Community event: All told, Landis has a goal of reaching 5,000 people in York, Adams and Cumberland counties.

"The bottom line is I want everyone to come," he said.

According to Landis, 10 percent of people in the tri-county area with young children are living below the poverty line. The goal is to help them in any way possible, he said. If that means picking up a backpack, or just a bag of groceries, so be it. If the families need every item in every tent to get ready for the school year, the volunteers will be ready, Landis said.


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And though the goal is to reach 5,000 people, it's not the number that counts, Landis said.

"I'd love to serve 5,000 people, but regardless of what the number is, I think what means the most to us is that we're helping families who are struggling in this economy," he said.

The rain-or-shine event starts at 8 a.m. at the school complex, located at 653 S. Baltimore St. in Dillsburg, and will go until they "run out of people or supplies," Landis said.

— Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.