BrunchFest held to raise money for children in Arkansas

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Hundreds of people gathered at the Little Rock Hall for BrunchFest, an event hosted by Youth and Family Centers where they were able to raise a total of $45,000

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Some people are fans of brunch, and on Saturday hundreds of people gathered in the Hall to attend this year’s BrunchFest organized by the Centers’ group of young professionals Emerging Leaders.

For Melissa Hendricks, director of the Youth and Family Centers Foundation, brunch has been a way to give back to the community.

“Our group of young professionals wanted to do a fundraiser to raise money for the kids who live in the centers,” Hendricks said.

She said the organization is one of the oldest nonprofits in Arkansas and its mission is to support children with common issues that thousands face every day.

“We help about 5,000 people a year with services across the mental health spectrum,” Hendricks said.

Nearly 400 people attended Saturday’s event and each person was very passionate about making sure the children can get the help they need.

Mary Claire Hill, a volunteer with their Emerging Leaders Organization, said they usually help with “therapeutic needs [and] resources, such as basic daily needs like food and clothing.”

A group of young professionals are the ones who raise funds for the foundation, and BrunchFest is their biggest event each year.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they suffered, as did various other places.

“The pandemic has affected everyone and the centers have certainly felt that impact,” Hill said.

Even though the festival was put on hiatus for a while, she was still able to help out in another capacity.

“I was able to dedicate time and resources to help intervene and send out coloring books or things students could do while they were in their facilities,” Hill said.

Amanda McColey, another young professional, said being part of the group allowed her to give back to communities in Arkansas.

“Some of that is going to benefit their summer activities and that’s so important for the kids,” McColey said.

It is certainly a huge deal. Not just for the people the organization has served, but for the companies that have continually supported their mission.

“We really started something new that restaurants were excited to support and obviously people in the community wanted to support it,” Hendricks said.

Youth and Family Centers raised a grand total of $45,000 at BrunchFest on Saturday.

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