HUNTINGTON - Members of the Fairfield community and beyond gathered at the A.D. Lewis Community Center on Saturday for its second annual block party.
Felisha White, board member and volunteer at the center, said the block party began last year and fell around the same time as the community center’s 50th anniversary.
“The block party was a way to bring the community together. It just happened to coincide with the anniversary,” White said.
MaRia Hill, director of the A.D. Lewis Community Center, said she took the idea and decided to continue it again this year. She said White and her husband are true assets to the community, as they donate both money and time toward the center.
Everything at the carnival, including food, was free. Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University and the White family are among those who donated. Scott Lemley, director of the Department of Planning and Development for the city of Huntington, estimated around 400 people attended the block party. Carnival-themed entertainment included professional wrestling, games and inflatables. Prizes raffled off included four bikes and season passes to Marshall University football games.
“I don’t think there’s a kid here who didn’t have a good time,” Lemley said. “No one went away hungry.”
Hill, whose father ran the community center when she was a child, has been the director of the center since 2012. She said the center fills a need for children in the Fairfield community as a safe place to go.
“The most important thing that I see, the center gives them a safe place to know they’re loved,” White said.
The A.D. Lewis Community Center serves between 40 and 150 children, depending on the day, and Lemley said some days it can be more than that.
“Our goal is to expose our youth to opportunities that they wouldn’t normally be able to obtain and have a brighter new day,” Hill said. “If you lose your money, you lose a little. If you lose a friend, you lose a whole lot more, but if you lose hope, you lose it all. We’re here to ensure they never lose that hope.”
The center is also preparing for upcoming events later this year, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The center will launch its Halloween costume drive in the coming weeks for children who do not have Halloween costumes. A Halloween party will also take place.
Holiday activities for the center include a Thanksgiving dinner the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and a Christmas party where each child receives a gift.
“If anyone wants to donate anything to the center, we appreciate any and all donations,” Lemley said. “We have limited funds to run the center, and we truly appreciate anybody and everybody who donates.”
Lemley said to donate to the A.D. Lewis Community Center, contact the center at 304-696-5908.
Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter @megosborneHD.