Smiles, laughter and live music filled the air on Jericho Road in Pickerington Aug. 30 as the Eastside Vineyard Church hosted its first Renew Pickerington Festival.
Local businesses and organizations partnered with the church to provide free services to benefit the community of Pickerington, just in time for the Back-to-School season.
In this time of economic crisis, there are a lot of people in need, Pastor Adam Babcock said.
"We want people to know that not all hope is lost," he said. "People still care."
In recent months, the local food pantry has seen the need for food triple in the community. Eastside Vineyard Church also has a free grocery program in which members give to the community in need.
Church members decided to extend their benevolence and outreach to the community by holding a festival that provided free food, services and fun.
The festival offered free haircuts from The Ohio Academy, a Paul Mitchell Partner School. Families lined up to take advantage of the hair cuts.
Michelle Robinette and Erik Leopard brought three of their children to take advantage of all the festival had to offer.
"It helped because haircuts for the whole family are expensive," Robinette said as her daughter sat patiently as stylist Candi Neil cut her hair.
The family saw an ad on the Internet announcing the event and felt it was a great opportunity to come out and take advantage of the needed offerings.
Tactical Plan, a Canal Winchester-based contemporary Christian Band with a classic rock sound, provided free entertainment. The praise music filled the air as children laughed in the Kid’s Zone provided by Bounce Away.
Family portraits were taken by Baby Steps Studios. Families could pick up their portraits at the church or have them e-mailed to them after the event.
Judith Hummel found herself pulling into the parking lot out of curiosity. She said she was driving by and was familiar with the church.
"It can’t all be free," she said. "I think it’s great."
Hummel picked up a bag of free groceries to give to a needy family she knows.
Resume writing, blood pressure screening and Dare officers were also on hand at the event. Courtney Frost, a licensed counselor with Beacon Center for Counseling, was passing out information on services provided. The center is located in Westerville and provides counseling in a caring Christian environment. Frost has an office located inside Eastside Vineyard.
"There is a big need for basic necessities," Frost said. "Counseling can be one of those basic needs."
Robert Byers and his wife brought their two grandchildren to enjoy the fun.
"It’s a function for everyone," Byers said. "I like seeing the church reaching out to the community. God wants us to enjoy life and give back."