Food drive carnival collects donations for pantries in Mecosta, Osceola counties
HERSEY — Local families came together Saturday afternoon to enjoy festivities at Mosaic Park in Hersey while also helping build the supply at area food pantries.
In its seventh year, the Mecosta-Osceola Food Drive Carnival drew in about 200 people. The zootopia-themed event featured kids’ games and prizes, refreshments, a bounce house and slide, face painting and a car show. The event was free with a donation of non-perishable food or other items.
Event creator and organizer Robin Marvel said the food drive was an absolute success, with more than $1,500 worth of food collected.
"It blew my mind with how awesome it was," Marvel said. "We raised so much food to help others. This year was the biggest it's ever been. I'm so happy with how it turned out."
The collected food items will be donated to Osceola and Mecosta County food pantries, including the Sears Food Pantry, Manna Pantry and Project Starburst.
Along with the other activities, Tara Lafferty, zoo instructor at John Ball Zoo, gave a presentation to those in attendance at the park.
With a few coolers and containers set on a picnic table, Lafferty spoke to the children and their parents as they gathered around her to learn about adaptations in animals.
One by one, Lafferty would take an animal out of its cage to show the crowd. She first presented a rabbit, followed by a turtle and then an owl. A python was the last animal Lafferty showed attendees, which everyone had the chance to touch and pet if they desired.
Cara Keup, of Reed City, brought her children to the food drive. The event was a great family activity which gave her children a chance to give to others, Keup said.
"It's really neat John Ball Zoo was here," Keup said. "There's lots of fun activities, plus the kids had the opportunity to donate to the food pantries. We're always looking for service projects and ways to give back to show our kids how important that is. This way they got to have fun and help others at the same time."
Marvel loves being able to provide a chance for people to give to others while also having a good time.
"Community is huge to me," Marvel said. "The point of this is to bring people together for a good purpose. It doesn't get any better than that."
With another successful year completed, Marvel is already looking forward to the future.
"I'm excited to do this again," she said. "We want to continue to grow. We always want it to be bigger and better."