A community effort between local churches will help bring clothes, food and school supplies to area children.

A back-to-school event called the Matthew 25 Project, based on the Bible scripture Matthew 25:37-40, is set for Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Current Outreach Church at 414 S. Fourth St., Van Buren.

Guests at the event will be given a free meal, socks and new underwear, a hygiene packet, school supplies, a free haircut, and access to a new and used clothes closet, said organizer Karen Beckner, a member of The Current church.

This event, Beckner said, is a community effort that involves civic organizations, area businesses and nine local churches.

“It’s more of a community thing, not just a church,” Beckner said. “We believe we are stronger together. This is a step in the direction of unity in the community.”

This is the second year for the event. Beckner came up with the idea after coming across Matthew 25, which relates the teachings of Jesus to feed and clothe those in need, while reading her Bible, she said.

“It just struck me, and I thought to myself, we can do this in our community,” Beckner said.

There will be family activities at the back-to-school event, including three bands performing praise and worship music, refreshments, airbrush tattoos, bounce arounds and prayer rooms.

Kids also can get a photo with a “hometown hero,” including local fire fighters, police officers and members of the local chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse.

Churches, civic groups and businesses are participating by collecting items to give away or sponsoring an activity at the event, Beckner said.

To prevent any one group from being overwhelmed, each group is responsible for providing one thing for the event, Beckner said.

“Separately, it’s just one thing … But when we all come together and bring these things together, it’s a big feast,” Beckner said.

Churches taking part include The Current, Momentum, Sunnyside Assembly of God, Heritage Church, Kibler Baptist Church, Mt. Olive, Hearts of Hope, The Family Worship Center and the Northpark Baptist youth group.