The COVID-19 pandemic took a steep toll on charity events last year, and one of the casualties was Hopefest, an annual donation distribution event for the homeless and impoverished on the Eastside.
Organizers are planning a comeback event for August 14.
Hopefest 2021 will bring teens together to help over 1,000 people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Wearing blue shirts, volunteers will give clothing, groceries, hygiene products, school supplies, toys, haircuts, dental care, and more to families who come collect.
This annual event did not happen in 2020. It was scheduled to occur in mid-March of last year, but due to the statewide stay-at-home order, Hopefest organizers and volunteers were unable to hold their annual day of service.
Instead, they pivoted to running smaller acts of service throughout the year, such as providing hygiene products and supplies to the already established meal pickup service that was run by the Lake Washington School District.
“[We focused on] distributing our supplies more immediately instead of in a large event style…So, while the Hopefest event didn’t happen, we still had an impact,” said Joseph Osborn, a director for Hopefest 2021.
With the state now lifting all COVID-related restrictions, Hopefest 2021 was allowed to go forward this year.
The event itself will feel reminiscent of what Hopefest was before pandemic, but certain rules have been put in place to minimize any spread of sickness. Attendees over the age of five will be required to wear masks. Volunteers will be using disposable gloves. The venue, Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center, is also larger than that of prior years, which leaves room for social distancing.
Hopefest is advertising free vaccinations, mini-golf, and refreshments for those who attend the event. This was a conscious move on the planners’ part.
Osborn said that the goal is to provide more than a “supply distribution experience” and hopes the event is more of a “community experience.” In previous years, they have added fun activities such as face painting, musicians and even a clown.
Because of last year’s cancellation, Hopefest was not able to distribute most of its donations, which left the organization with double the amount of supplies versus a normal year.
“We have more to give away than we ever have before,” Osborn said.
The recipients of these donations are not the only people benefitting from this event. Hopefest organizers also want to create a positive experience for its volunteers.
“[I want to show volunteers that] as a community member, you are poised to make a difference,” Osborn said.
If you are interested in signing up to be a volunteer at Hopefest 2021, go here.