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Posted: October 22, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Harvest for the hungry

By Chris Queen/

Trick or treat! Kristin Sorenson, Director of Children's Ministry at First Baptist Church, sits in front of one of the candy collection areas at the church.

Halloween is just around the corner, and that means families will be looking for activities to attend and ways to spend the holiday. Churches often offer safe alternatives to trick or treating, where kids can get the candy they crave and expend energy playing games. This year, one local church is offering an event that is not just a Halloween-alternative fall festival but is also a way to help give back to the community.

First Baptist Church of Covington will present Harvest for the Hungry: A Fall Festival and Community Food Drive on the Square, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Halloween.

This free event is open to the community and offers candy and games for preschool and elementary school-age children. Activities include face painting, a fire truck, inflatable slides, free popcorn and hot chocolate, music, and carnival games such as tick-tack-toe, ring toss, and basketball toss.

One special feature is the community food drive. In the past, First Baptist has sponsored trunk or treat events on the Square, but this year the church decided to add an element that would allow families to make an impact on the community as a whole. Families are asked to bring non-perishable foods to benefit local food banks and community organizations.

"October is Hunger Awareness month in the Southern Baptist world, and we wanted to do something that made more of an impact on the community as a whole," said Kristin Sorenson, children’s ministry director at First Baptist. "We thought that this festival would be a wonderful way for us as a community to have fun as well as help out those who are in need."

First Baptist has partnered with Main Street Covington and local businesses to collect cans of food from customers throughout October. Merchants are still taking donations, and there will be collection points on the square for people to bring non-perishable food items to the event.

The festival is also a simple way for people to help others out at a time when local organizations need assistance the most.

"It’s been a hard year for the food pantries in our area, and I know that several of them are running low on supplies," said Sorenson. "I’m hoping that the food collected through this festival will give them a boost."

Members of the First Baptist Church family are providing the bulk of the volunteer base, and the Covington Fire Department and Main Street Covington volunteers are stepping up to help as well.

"It is heartwarming to see so many people willing to get involved and help out," said Sorenson. "We want everyone to have a wonderful and safe time, and our volunteers are a big part of that."

The Harvest for the Hungry event is part of First Baptist Church’s effort to take the message of the Gospel out of the church walls and into the community at large. The church has hosted other events geared toward the community, such as Easter on the Square and a special service on the roof of the parking deck next to the church in early October.

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