Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the Bowling Green Police Department will host a back-to-school celebration Saturday to foster further unity in the city.

The Back to School Bash is the brainchild of Johnalma Barnett, who is a member of the church. She saw an opportunity to work with the BGPD after the two groups worked together earlier this year when the church was the site of a Poor People’s Campaign rally.

Afterwards, Barnett approached BGPD Chief Michael Delaney with a potential idea to promote solidarity in Bowling Green before school began.

“The community needs to see that we are all a team – we are stronger together,” she said. “We got good police officers here. The community seeing the church partnering with the police department will only strengthen our bond.”

The celebration will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday in front of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

BGPD officers will shut down part of Graham Drive in front of the church to safely allocate needed space for the celebration.

The two groups have combined their resources and will give away 325 backpacks full of school supplies for children who attend the free event.

Barnett said there will be food trucks, door prizes and free clothing available for the public. Bounce houses will be set up for children.

Bowling Green Independent School District officials will be taking applications and conducting interview for interested individuals. Community Education will be present as well with an informational table.

“The job of the church is to support the community,” Barnett said. “That vision is coming true through all the people that have reached out. We just need some togetherness. It doesn’t matter what community you come from. This is a chance for great fellowship.”

A portion of the event will serve as a celebration for former BGPD Officer Jan Tuttle, who retired June 30.

Tuttle was the Residents Against Drugs officer and was assigned to the Housing Authority of Bowling Green’s properties. The RAD officer also serves as the department’s liaison officer to Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School.

BGPD Public Information Officer Ronnie Ward said Tuttle served the community for several years, and the church wanted honor his dedication by presenting him an award Saturday.

“We were really happy that they had the idea to let us come in and co-sponsor,” he said. “We do a lot of events involving children throughout the year. In an event such as this, it’s a direct reflection on the community to want us to be a part of their event. We are excited to help and be a big part of this.”

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.