MILLVILLE – James and Jack Murphy, 10 and 8, of Laurel Lake immediately slid their new bookbags over their shoulders and grinned at each other.
Vanita Jones, 12, of Millville quickly found a chair so she could sit down and check out the school supplies inside her brand new backpack.
Angelina Cerrio, 7, of Millville found a shady spot under a tree and curiously opened her new bookbag.
About 100 children had similar reactions Saturday morning at the No Child Left Behind Fair at Prophetic in Warfare Deliverance and Worship Tabernacle at 1021 Buck St.
The church collected donations and offered free backpacks with school supplies to area children. The annual fair opened with prayer by Missionary Viviene Grant of Maryland and Apostle Nadine Manning of Millville who both prayed for the children’s protection and guidance during the new school year.
“We believe that we need to mentor the children and let them know that we care about them,” said Manning, pastor of the church. “We need protection in the schools with all the scares around the schools. We think we need to pray for our children to let them know that they need God’s guidance.”
The fair included hot dogs, water, snacks and a bounce house, all offered free of charge through donations from individuals and area businesses.
In addition, blood pressure and glucose screenings were offered by the Cumberland County Health Department.
Cynthia Nelson of Millville brought five children to the fair. “It helps a lot, especially when you have more than one child,” she said.
Michael DeLeon, president of Steered Straight Inc. in Millville, addressed the children and encouraged them to make good choices. He asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up and told them education was the way to get there.
“I want you to focus on this coming school year unlike you’ve focused on any school year in the past,” said DeLeon. “I want you to understand bullying has no place in your school and no place in your life. Drugs and gangs have no place in your life and no place in your future. I want you to focus on your schoolwork.”
Mayor Michael Santiago also attended the fair. “This is great. We should have more of this,” he said.
He spoke to the crowd and encouraged the children. “It’s very important that you stay in school … Don’t let anyone stop you from what you want to do,” he said.
Anne Baxter of Stone Harbor volunteered resources and time to the fair. “I like the cause because it’s important. I like seeing people happy and helping people,” she said. “It gives you an overall feeling of worth because you are making a difference.”
Next year, organizers hope to expand the fair and give away 300 backpacks, said Manning.
For more information, call (856) 825-8280 or email