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Churches bring music, magic, supplies to students

Two local churches came together last Friday night to bring a mixture of magic, music, inspiration and much-needed supplies for the families of elementary age students.

Greenville’s First Baptist Church and Southside Baptist Church’s Launch Children’s Ministry co-sponsored the 5th Annual Elementary Extravaganza, held in the cafetorium of W.O. Parmer Elementary School.

Sara Jean Atkins and Tami Revette manned the registration table outside the cafetorium, signing up students, kindergarten through sixth grade, for a chance to win some back-to-school goodies.

It was controlled chaos inside the space, with some youngsters hula hooping to upbeat music playing through the loudspeakers while others chowed down on hot dogs and chips with their family members, or had their faces painted by GMS cheerleaders. Every few minutes, more names were called out from the stage to “come on down and get your backpacks!”

Abbie Ballew, one of the organizers of the annual event, was busy helping shepherd those winners to the right place.

“We have 240 backpacks we are giving away tonight,” Ballew explained, adding, “And the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Camellia Girls and Chamber Pages are here to help us pass out notebooks, pencils, crayons and other school supplies all kids can use.”

For the second half of the two-hour event, the hula hoops were put away and the children found spots to sit in front of the stage where they could enjoy the magic and comedy of Joseph Young, a Christian illusionist and entertainer. Young, a 20-year veteran of the stage, got his audience involved in the show. He brought a number of the children present on stage to assist him with his magic tricks and even engaged a few of the adults in his hi-jinks along the way.

Cemira Powell enjoyed watching son, Clay’s, participation in one of the illusions.

“He’s loving it, of course. He’s such a ham,” Powell said with a laugh.

Young, who emphasizes “family-friendly squeaky-clean humor, hilarious audience interaction, amazing sleight of hand, and inspiring message,” closed out his show with a special gospel presentation.

“I am just an illusionist. I can’t perform miracles. Only God can do that,” Young told his audience.

“It’s been a really fun night. We had a great turnout, we helped out some families with the kids’ supplies and everyone seemed to have a good time,” Ballew concluded.