Tylerites descended on Bergfeld Park on Saturday for a fun family festival that collected food and money to feed hungry children in East Texas and the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
“It’s a beautiful day, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we had 5,000 or 6,000 people out here today,” Brandon Smith, founder and executive director of No Hungry Children, said as the crowd started gathering.
Admission was three non-perishable food items, and families could buy tickets to participate in fun activities, such as bounce houses, a cakewalk, face painting and a dunking booth.
There also was food, a silent auction and entertainment. Grant Price, the magician, did magic tricks; the drum line from Grace Community School performed and KVNE broadcast live.
Smith said he was hoping for donations of about 10,000 pounds of food. About $40,000 in sponsorships, donations and merchandise sales already had been raised, and if another $20,000 or $30,000 was raised Saturday, “that would be awesome,” Smith said.
Donated food will stay in East Texas and be given to the St. Paul Children’s Foundation to help local families, he said, while funds raised by the festival will go to help feed hungry children in Kenya.
“It will be sent on a monthly basis as needed to our partners on the ground in Kenya and they will purchase the food for the 20 schools with about 2,000 children that we feed every day,” Smith said.
Smith said he founded No Hungry Children in 2011 “because we saw the need of children going hungry in the slums of Nairobi as well as in our own backyard and we wanted to feed the children in the name of Jesus.”
“The Lord led me to start this ministry primarily to feed children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, but when we do events like this to raise money for that feeding program, we understand when we come into a community that there are children in that community that are hungry as well, so we partnered with St. Paul Children’s Foundation to help raise food for the children here locally.”
Volunteers helped stage the festival.
“We are thankful for everybody who is helping us out and coming out and spending money,” Smith said.
Catherine Hobbs said she and her sister-in-law brought her three children to help feed the hungry kids and “to teach them about how blessed they are.”
Accompanying two children, Keith Carcia said, “I think it’s an important event to get everybody out and make awareness (of the need). I think everybody in the community should be involved in something like this.”
“This is a good cause,” Kathy Carcia said.
Susan Devinney said she came “to support the No Hungry Children endeavor and I’m trying to raise our children to be proactive. Our church, First Baptist South, is involved with this event. We just wanted to come out and take advantage of all they had to offer.”
Gloria Ford said she brought her grandchildren, great grandchildren and daughter “to enjoy the day with them.”
“I brought a sack of canned food. I always come every year. I come for a good time and then to help feed the hungry. Someday I might be hungry.”