SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With the first day of school for many just over a week away, parents, students and teachers may be looking for last-minute ways to prepare for the school year. Some Springfield residents got ready to head back to the classroom while also having a bit of fun! The Templo Evangelistico Pentecostal Church is helping the greater Springfield community get ready to jump into the new year by hosting a back-to-school celebration.

Carmen Sanchez of Springfield’s Templo Evangelistico Pentecostal Church told 22News what drives them to put on events like these, “This is why we do these activities, because we want to give back to the community.”

The event featured bounce houses, face-painting, food, a dunk tank, and even an animal show.

From stocking up on school supplies to ensuring your health, there may be several items left on the “to-do” list before heading back to the classroom.

There was a table set up which had backpacks with different colors that kids can choose from and fill with needed school supplies, all for free. The Behavioral Health network additionally offered both COVID-19 vaccination and flu shots for anyone in need.

Many school districts have encouraged students to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination before the start of classes, in line with recent recommendations from the Massachusetts Department of Health.

And COVID-19 isn’t the only health priority ahead of the school year, experts also encourage parents to talk to their children about any feelings of anxiety they may be having about heading back to school, especially with first-time kindergarteners or those transitioning to high school.

Church leaders also emphasized the importance of an education, expressing hope that this fun-filled day sparked an excitement for learning among the children. Jcob Rodriguez the Assistant Pastor at the Templo Evangelistico Pentecostal Church talked about the impact starting a hunger for knowledge can have on the children’s life.

“Obviously knowledge is power. In life, there’s many circumstances, especially in the city that we live in. We hope to give back to the community and we hope that they can get an education so that they can get further in life, so definitely, we want to get them excited about learning,” Rodriguez said.

Carmen furthered the sentiment, “Also, to prepare them and get them ready. Show them that they should start loving school.”

22News can confirm that for many of the kids today, it worked! Gabriel is one such kid excited to start his adventure into third grade.

He said, “I can’t wait for third grade to start!”