BROOKSVILLE — Live rock music, good food and fun carnival games — all for charity and with expectations for beautiful weather — can undoubtedly draw a large crowd.
That's what the Nature Coast Children's Crusade anticipates as the group presents its Shark Aid 2011 Charity Festival Concert on Saturday afternoon at Nature Coast Technical High School.
This year's charity festival and concert will feature the music of three bands: Haze, a classic rock band; the Westbay Band, which performs classic and Southern rock; and the newly formed Strength in Numbers, which performs classic and 1980s rock music.
"Strength in Numbers is a new upstart band of Nature Coast students," said Children's Crusade sponsor Patrick O'Grady. "They built themselves for this stage, just for this purpose."
The band was formed by freshmen Brandon Sung (lead guitar) and Colton Lancsaries (rhythm guitar). It also includes David Novak on drums, Alex Morera on keyboards and vocals, and vocalist Jamie Smeriglio.
While rehearsing and preparing for the event, Michael Duxstand, who is the lead singer for Haze, helped them with stage presence and will assist with sound.
"He really gave a lot of his time," O'Grady said.
Also, when the Westbay Band performs, Nature Coast student and guitarist Vivian O'Grady, 16, will play with the group.
The event will include carnival games with prizes for smaller children. There will also be a 42-foot water slide, an area for making friendship bracelets and beaded jewelry, a coloring area, a bean bag toss game, kite-flying and a Frisbee area. The school's Key Club will provide face painting, and the cheerleading squad will sponsor a volleyball match, in which teams of three compete until they lose.
With the exception of the water slide, which is $1 for two slides, all games and activities are free.
There will be concessions run by the Nature Coast Robotics Club, and the drama department will have a bake sale.
Money collected from gate admission will benefit the United Way of Hernando County's Community Investment Fund. Food collected will be given to the National Association of Letter Carriers, which will distribute it among 38 local pantries.
This year's event is the second for the Children's Crusade, a school club that raises money to help feed the hungry in Hernando County. About 20 members put it together, with help from O'Grady and his wife, Katrin.
"The kids worked really hard to raise money for this event," O'Grady said.
Throughout the school year, they conducted carwashes and yard sales. Funds raised also allowed the group to provide Thanksgiving meals for more than two dozen families, as well as a Christmas dinner and presents for a local family of eight. They also filled the Holy Trinity food pantry in March.
Back when wrapping the gifts for the family in need, O'Grady recalled the students' excitement.
"They loved it," he said. "They got the biggest thrill from doing for others. … They were like kids at Christmas."