Mount Vernon: Church Holds 8th Annual Back-to-School Festival

Mount Vernon: Church Holds 8th Annual Back-to-School Festival

Harvest Assembly Baptist Church encourages school success.

Volunteers cut and style students’ hair.

Volunteers cut and style students’ hair. Photo by Jerry Fill.


Volunteer barber Shanequa Glover cuts a boy's hair.


From left are Harvest Baptist Church leaders including Minister Sharlene Jones, Pastor Johnny Abram, Assistant Pastor Velvet Abram, and Back-to-School Festival students and members of the Harvest Baptist Church.


Church Deacon Hugh Johnson, a retired barber, gets ready to cut the hair of one of the children waiting for the free back-to-school service.

Hundreds of children participated in Harvest Assembly Baptist Church’s 8th annual Back to School Festival on Sept. 3.

"In my mind this festival says to our children that education is very important, and that we care a great deal about their success as a student," said Minister Sharlene Jones, the organizer of the festival.

“By organizing this and soliciting for school backpacks and supplies, and doing things like cutting the boys' hair and styling the girls' hair we want them to know how much we care. We want to show them and their parents that our church has their back and that we care about them. ... I can't say enough about how much this means to all of us; it has helped us to build strength and unity among the church members and the community as a whole,” she said. “I also want to make sure to thank and give credit to Tonya Diamond who years ago first came up with the vision for this festival that means so much to our church and the community."

The Rev. Dr. Johnnie Abram said, "We began sponsoring the festival in 2009 and it has since developed into one of the most important activities for the church. The children enjoy and appreciate having the new backpacks , school supplies, and the happy atmosphere of the festival; getting together and having food and inviting the community volunteers, and it tells them, without a word said, that school is important and that God is looking after them. We are so grateful for the tremendous support of the businesses on Route 1 who have been so generous. Without the businesses and the many volunteers, we would not have such a happy and successful Back to School Festival. On behalf of our church I want to thank them all and we pray for their happiness and good health," he said.

The Harvest Assembly Baptist Church began in 1987. Its first members were a small group, half of them were homeless,and they met initially in Woodlawn Elementary School. From this beginning, the present church, now situated in the heart of Gum Springs, has thrived and grown to where now, according to Abram, the founding member, there are 800 active members.


Pastor: Rev. Dr. Johnnie L. Abram

Assistant Pastor: Velvet Abram

Minister: Sharlene Jones

Active Church Members: 800

Church was founded by Pastor Abram in 1987

Approximate number of children helped by the Back to School Festival this year: 300

Corporate sponsors who contributed to the Back to School Festival included Shoppers Food Warehouse, Walmart, Buffalo Wings, COSCO, K&C Beauty Supplies, Famous Dave's, Target, Popeyes, Noodles & Co., Subway, TGI Fridays, Navy Credit Union, Great American, and Big Panda.

Contact: Harvest Assembly Baptist Church (703-799-7868), 8008 Fordson Road, Alexandria, VA 22306