BROOKSVILLE — What parent or anyone responsible for a child hasn't raised eyes heavenward at some time and pleaded, "Somebody help me!"
In need of help or not, a wealth of information about local services that are available for infants to middle-schoolers — as well as hands-on activities for those youngsters — will be served up free at Saturday's 21st annual Community and Family Fun Festival.
The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jerome Brown Community Center, 99 Jerome Brown Place, near Tom Varn Park. It celebrates the national Week of the Young Child. Last year, more than 2,000 visitors took advantage of the Hernando festival.
With some 45 organizations staffing indoor booths and tables this year, Penny Oliver, recreation specialist at the county Parks and Recreation Department, said the purpose of the event is "to bring awareness to families of all the great organizations that we have and help them to better the children's lives."
Children are the target audience, Oliver said, adding, "It's not (aimed at) poor families, but anyone who can benefit from what these organizations offer, for any and all families that have needs."
Services to be showcased range from day care and Head Start programs to behavioral health counseling, civic efforts to meet the wants of needy children, child safety awareness and educational opportunities.
While adults pick up informational brochures and talk with service providers, staffers at each booth will offer to children such hands-on activities as making hats from newspapers and necklaces from noodles, crafting decorated doorknob hangers, making buttons, coloring and painting.
Always popular are Sheriff's Office demonstrations, including how to collect crime scene evidence and fingerprints; a mounted unit of civilians on horseback who assist in searches and with parking at events, and a motorcycle unit showing off its work in dealing with traffic issues and accidents.
The Florida Highway Patrol will demonstrate what happens in a vehicle accident when passengers are wearing seat belts and when they're not.
Children also can examine a fire truck and an ambulance, romp in a bounce house, have their faces painted, watch Tony the Balloon Guy create balloon sculptures and be entertained by Kevin the Pirate.
Refreshments of hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks, bottled water, popcorn and snow cones will be available for 50 cents each, thanks to local sponsors providing them at discounts, Oliver said.
The festival is organized by the county Parks and Recreation Department, with major sponsors including Publix Supermarkets, Kids Central Inc., Devereux Florida, the state Department of Children and Family Services and the St. Petersburg Times.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.