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June 5, 2014

West End festival promotes community involvement

MILLEDGEVILLE — The third annual West End Summer Fest is set to promote positive community involvement by giving back.

The event is slated for Saturday, June 7 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the West End field near the Boys and Girls Club on West Charlton Street.

Festivities will include food, face painting, music, live entertainment and a bounce house for the kids—all free of charge for the community.

"It's our way of getting everyone that grew up in this area a positive outlet to spend time with each other and celebrate our community," said Ronnie Lewis.

Lewis, one of the festival organizers, grew up in the West End community and has been organizing events similar to the summer fest for the community for years.

"Before we made the festival an annual event I used to do something around Labor Day, using money out of my own pocket, just to do something positive for the kids where I live," Lewis said.

Other community members such as Angela Smith and Evelyn Haynes joined Lewis in his efforts to motivate the children of the West End community and soon a simple gesture of giving back turned into an annual event.

"People can come out and set up tents, grill and play games," Lewis said. "The main purpose of the festival is to get more people involved in something that's positive."

He added that so many people are often speaking of ways to bring the community together, but never following through with their actions. If anyone is interested in helping out, Lewis says it’s not too late to volunteer, donate or be a guest speaker.

“We welcome any church pastor or community volunteer to come out and speak to the children to encourage them to make smart decisions in their lives and to lead by example,” he said.

His hope is that each year the festival will get bigger and better with increasing numbers of volunteers, sponsors and participants. Approximately 300 people attended the event last year.

Local businesses and individuals have contributed to the festival, but Lewis would like to see more.

"I don't do this event to get recognition. I just enjoy seeing our community come together to do something good," the festival organizer said.

The event will also feature a prayer and a memorial in memory of those in the community that are deceased.

"Our elders set the standard of how we should live and respect each other and we want the kids to see that even after death, they are still respected," Lewis said.

Balloons will be released in memory of the deceased West End community members who left lasting impression on everyone.

Donations of any kind and any amount are welcomed. If you are unable to donate money, the planning committee is in need of additional hot dogs, hamburger and hot dog buns, chips, sodas, juices, water and condiments.

"Every little bit helps and every cent and every item we get goes directly to the festival," Lewis said.

Any individual or business interested in donating can call Lewis at 478-251-2857 or Evelyn Haynes at 478-696-1223.

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