Calvary Community’s annual back-to-school block party slated July 22

Barber Peter Soler of Columbus Uppercutz is shown in his shop on Washington Street. Soler plans to provide back-to-school haircuts for 40 youngsters at Calvary Community Church’s free Community Back 2 School Block Party on July 22.

Republic file photo

Calvary Community Church again has organized its annual free Community Back 2 School Block Party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 22 on the church property at 1031 Chestnut St. in downtown Columbus.

The event is a team effort with Calvary, the local African American Pastors Alliance, The Columbus/Bartholomew County Branch of the NAACP, Second Baptist Church, and Faith, Hope and Love Church of God in Christ. It will include food, games such as basketball, a backpack giveaway and free student haircuts provided by barber Peter Soler of Columbus Uppercuts.

“We all do this simply to help those who may be struggling,” said Deborah Booker, a minister at Calvary. “We just want to offer a hand to those who may not even know where to turn for help.”

The local predominantly Black churches such as Calvary, the pastors alliance and the NAACP frequently have joined forces for a variety of events and celebrations in the past decade or s0.

Organizers are still deciding on the details for the food. Last year, it consisted of sandwiches from Chick-fil-A. This year, it could be homemade burgers and hot dogs, Booker said.

Those wanting haircuts, to be provided to the first 40 students, must pick up a voucher at the church at 1031 Chestnut St. at the event, according to organizers.

“It’s always good to be able to give back,” Soler said when the outreach began in 2018. “God has been good to me and blessed me, so I am just returning the favor.”

Backpacks also must be picked up at the church.

Calvary has done the backpack giveaway and free haircuts as a community service for the past several years. In the past, the event has attracted as many as 500 people.

Calvary co-founder and original pastor Bishop Charles A. Sims, who launched the Block Party idea in 2019, detailed in 2021 why such a gathering is so important.

“We feel like we play an integral role in the welfare of the community,” Sims said. “We’re concerned about families and kids that need help. And so we are here in part to help serve them. Really, this is ultimately about holistic ministry — mind, body and soul. We’re concerned about the entire person.”

Pastor Johnnie Edwards, president of the Columbus/Bartholomew County Branch of the NAACP, mentioned that the organization’s visibility is important at these kind of events “if for no other reason to touch base with the community and to say to them ‘We’re here if you need us.’”

Plus, he added that the block party addresses a very specific need.

“We’re joining forces with others on this specifically,” he said, “to make sure that local students have the resources that they need for the school year.”

Another event

In addition to Calvary Community Church’s free Community Back 2 School Block Party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 22, Sandy Hook United Methodist also is hosting a Back to School Bash from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 5 at the church at 1610 Taylor Road in Columbus. Information: