Olivia Helmick, a very bright and energetic 8-year-old, plans to make a difference for the homeless at the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley with her second annual “Back Yard Carnival” on Sunday.
The carnival, which grew so much it had to be moved from her grandparents’ backyard to Welker Park, 10711 Main St., is from noon to 8 p.m.
Olivia and her family have planned a full day of activities with all proceeds going to benefit the Rescue Mission.
The carnival, open to the public, includes children’s games, an auction, raffles, sales, prizes, food and even a dunk tank in which Jim Echement, executive director of the mission, has volunteered to get soaked.
The idea of a carnival came about when Olivia shared with her grandmother, Pam Coover, that she wanted to do something to help the poor — and they thought of the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley.
Grandmothers Coover and Colleen Helmick, both of Poland, have been Olivia’s big helpers along with her parents, Steve and Crystal Coover Helmick, and even her cousins, twins Ashlee and Emmalee, 10, and James McGarry, 13, of Canfield.
James is “the pie guy,” meaning people pay to throw pies at him, said his grandmother.
They also help with figuring out and running games and picking out prizes “because they know what kids like,” Coover said.
Kids can play the games for free and win tickets that they exchange for prizes.
The auction features tickets to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, signed pictures and sports memorabilia by Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers players, and tickets to Cleveland Indians and Scrappers games.
More food has been added, including hamburgers, hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn and homemade jams, and the Aut Mori Grotto clowns are scheduled to appear.
Coover said the event still could use donated items for the auction and money or items for the mission, such as clothing and household items.
“Last year, people brought enough items to fill the Rescue Mission truck three times. It is amazing how much they bring and how nice it is,” Coover said.
For information, call Coover at 330-720-1175 or Helmick at 330-502-3390. To donate money directly to the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley, call 330-744-5486.
Olivia and her grandmothers and cousins also help the Rescue Mission in other ways.
Olivia and her Grandmother Helmick work on the food line serving meals; and she and her cousins and Grandmother Coover have a craft class once a month for children at the mission.