The town of Clarkston, Georgia, is home to thousands of refugees who have come to America to escape violence, poverty and persecution. As children were preparing to head back to school, this month the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board’s “Send Relief” organization made sure they have the supplies they need.

According to Send Relief, “Clarkston, Georgia, sometimes called the ‘Ellis Island of the South,’ has received more than 40,000 refugees in the past 25 years, from every corner of the world.”

They recently held a  “Back to School Party” where they handed out donated school supplies from more than 200 churches and several ministries. They handed out more than 2,100 backpacks (and 35,000 school supplies). Many in the community also received health screenings, Bibles, haircuts and new shoes. The event was open to all families in the area, many of whom are refugees. There were also games, snacks and voter registration resources. (H/T Christian Post)

Send Relief also connects Baptists from around the country with families in the community via mission trips that also help change the perceptions of Muslims in America. On their site, they tell the story of a man named Mickey Pate, a sheriff’s deputy from Alabama who went on a trip to the community this summer with only the intention of “protecting” his wife who was also attending. He admitted to Send Relief, “I didn’t want to be their friend.”

However, after having a meal with a refugee family, his perception changed—especially after hearing about the persecution they faced from their own government in Syria. He said, “I didn’t realize what a lot of those people had gone through. As a law enforcement officer too, my job was to take care of people.”

Trent DeLoach, the manager of Send Relief’s Clarkston Ministry Center, told The Christian Post, “For the most part, refugees in Clarkston feel welcome. I can’t say that is the case across the board in all cities but I love the fact that Clarkston and our church have gone to great lengths to make sure our international neighbors feel loved, welcomed, affirmed and appreciated. That is true of all of our international neighbors.”