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Community Fair features informative fun

Animals, food and crafts are just a few of the components of the Southwest Leadership Team's 10th annual Community Fair.

The fair, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 18 at Hillcrest Park on 3rd Avenue, will also provide adults with easy access to valuable information, ranging from health care to fire safety to Head Start programs available in the area.

Representatives from a variety of organizations are expected to attend the event. Among them are Enterprise Homes — the company building the new 54-unit town home community in Lansdowne — Y of Central Maryland, the Lansdowne Volunteer Fire Department, Center for Pregnancy Concerns in Arbutus and St. Agnes Hospital.

"We find that our residents don't always know where to always go for services," said Brenda Harney, co-director of the Southwest Leadership Team.

"On this side of the county, we don't have a community center or a resource center like other communities have," Harney said.

"This is our one day a year where we can do that for them, and that's why we continue to do it," she said.

Joan Mitchell, a Baltimore Highlands resident, organizes the annual spring event with Harney.

She said the community fair was her brainchild and she approached Harney years ago with the idea to provide free fun and information to community members who might not otherwise have access to it.

"I want to have something where we can bring all these organizations in and help the community, because so many people don't know where to go when they need information," Mitchell said.

"It's a lot of fun for the children, but it's a lot of information for the parents," she said.

Mitchell and Harney spend a few months each year talking with county organizations and local businesses, working to bring as many possible resources to the community in one day, entirely for free.

"Anything that we can bring to the people, the community, to try and help them," Mitchell said. "Because that's our basic goal, to try and make life easier for them.

"It's to bring a little bit of free fun," she said. "Everything except the food is free."

Both women agreed that, while the event is a great resource for parents, it is also meant to be a fun day outside for kids.

Among the activities for the younger visitors will be a clown, face painting, raffles and door prizes throughout the day. The Lansdowne Senior Center will be showing animals in the park for three hours.

Mitchell said this year's raffle prizes will include brand new bicycles and scooters, in addition to other giveaways for the kids.

"Every child will walk away with something," Mitchell said. "No one will walk away empty handed.

"It's an extreme amount of work (to put on), but it's well worth it," she said.

"It really is just a day for the kids and their parents to come out and have a good day," Harney said. "It's all about being a family, that's what we're trying to incorporate in this educational piece."

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