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Angie Laswell, whose idea it was to have the Back to School Bash, twirls cotton candy for children at last week's event at the Crawford County Judicial Complex in English. Photos By Chris Adams

Back to School Bash big success

July 31, 2019
If you and your family were among those who came out to the Crawford County Sheriff's Department's Back to School Bash last Tuesday (and, judging by the large crowd, there's a good chance you were), you might be surprised that planning for the event began just about three weeks earlier.

The bash, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the judicial complex in English, was the inspiration of Angie Laswell.

Crawford County Sheriff Jeff Howell visits with Brycen Stevens at the Back to School Bash.
"The idea just came to me one night while driving on my paper route," said Laswell, a deliverer for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.

Knowing that the Crawford County Sheriff's Department is big on helping with community events, she got in touch with Sheriff Jeff Howell, and the planning began.

What resulted was 140 backpacks, many filled with supplies, being handed out to school-age children, lots of donated after-school snacks, free hot dogs and hamburgers, a drawing for a free tablet, and plenty of fun activities for kids, including inflatables, cotton candy, sno-cones and a special appearance by the Paw Patrol.

"I think it was a prime example of what a community could do when people get together to do something," Howell said.

Among those helping were several churches, including Hillview Christian, which donated the tablet, Tunnel Hill Free Methodist and Lincoln Hills United Methodist, which donated backpacks, Fairview General Baptist, which donated cash to purchase buns and bottled water, and English Wesleyan, which provided bags of chips.

Dare to Care in Louisville donated skids of food, along with 400 hamburgers and 300 hot dogs, which were grilled by CCSD officers and others.

"I've got a really great crew," Howell said of his officers, noting that all but one who was on vacation (and was disappointed he wasn't able to be there), volunteered their time as did other staff.

The line for the backpacks began forming at 5:30 p.m. and quickly extended behind the courthouse. Although the backpacks were soon gone, that didn't dampen spirits, as the lines for the hamburgers, hot dogs, inflatables, cotton candy and sno-cones quickly extended across the front parking lot.

In addition to helping organize the event, Laswell, who owns Angie's Inflatables, donated a bouncy house and blow-up slide, along with the cotton candy and sno-cone machines, and helped cover the remaining costs of the buns and bottled water.

Once their stomachs were filled and excess energy was burned off, children could venture inside to have their photo taken with Chase and other members of the Paw Patrol courtesy of photographer Nancy Roby-Steen, who donated her services.

In an effort to keep families safe throughout the year, Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Aaron Bye gave away weather radios and the CCSD had free gun locks available.

Also helping make the bash possible were J&D Auto Repair and Towing and Bones Construction.

Laswell said the plan is for the Back to School Bash to be an annual event.

"I will be doing a few fundraisers throughout the year to raise money, and, hopefully, we can have enough backpacks to furnish every child, possibilities of some new outfits and new shoes to hand out to the kiddos, as well," she said.

Laswell said the beginning of the school year can be a tough time financially for families, and she wants to help.

"I know firsthand what it is like to start school and not have all the things that you need, let alone decent shoes and a new outfit," she said. "Sometimes it's scary enough for kiddos to start school, but, believe me, it's a lot worse when you have to start school with clothes, shoes, backpacks that aren't in the best shape."

Howell, who expressed appreciation to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners for use of the judicial complex property, said organizers learned a lot from the inaugural event. Noting that several businesses who weren't involved this year already have contacted him about helping next time, he said next year's bash likely will be bigger and have to be at a different location.

Laswell said she will be purchasing items for next year's bash as they are on sale throughout the year and that anyone wanting to donate may email her at alaswell76@gmail.com or call or text her at 812-613-0357.

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