‘Bless the Block’ returns to west side for 3rd year

May 31, 2023 | 12:10 am

Updated June 2, 2023 | 11:18 am

File photo by Ryan Richardson

Bless the Block — 5th Street Life’s take on Vacation Bible School — returns to the corner of 5th and Poplar streets from May 31-June 2. The public event is staged outdoors and encourages everyone in the community to get outside and participate.

This marks the third year for the event, which began in 2020 as a safe alternative to VBS during the pandemic. 

Justin and Rebekah Kline had been organizing and hosting VBS for a decade when the world stopped in 2020. The concept was simple: bring VBS to the streets so that the community’s children can have the blessing of VBS within walking distance. 

“There’s a unique need we are trying to meet, and if it’s not met, some of these kids won’t come to a VBS,” Rebekah said. “If it’s something that’s enclosed within four walls, many of the adults won’t benefit from the blessing either. It’s strategically outdoors, no blocked streets, just open and welcome access for all to come.”

This year’s event will closely resemble previous years, with water games, outreach projects, and an inflatable water slide. Renowned Christian rapper George Rose will also be on site with Z-doh Norman for a live video shoot. 

“People come and are fed physically and spiritually,” Justin said. “They come with a smile and leave with an even bigger one. For some children, this will be their only meal of the day, and this event will be the highlight of their summer, some of their best memories of their whole life.”

Participants will also encounter Bible teaching, free food, bike giveaways, fireworks, and Pinky’s SnowCones & Snacks gift cards. Travis Owsley will be on site with Beverly’s Hearty Slice. Other “hometown heroes,” such as Julius Maddox, Dartanyan Tinsley, Travis Owsley, Chadd Morris, Sheila Crowe, and Brionna Greer Hall, will be present.

The event will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. each night and is geared toward children ages 4-13. 

“We get great joy from having a small role in giving back to this community that has folded us in as family,” the Klines said. “The kids and adults here start asking as soon as the event is over when the next one will be.”

Rebekah added that none of it would be possible without the ongoing support of the community.

“It’s an effort that would only be possible with a community that embraces it and takes ownership of it,” she said. “From donations and grilling to donating time and resources and promoting on social media, the community has been there. Dropping kids off by the carload has been the ultimate stamp of approval.”

May 31, 2023 | 12:10 am

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