by Linda Anderson
IRRIGON, Wash., June 29, 2015 - Every year Irrigon, Ore., has a one-day Watermelon Festival in the local marina park on the last Saturday in July. The event begins Saturday morning with a parade at 10 a.m. Throughout the day, there are several raffles for prizes, amateur contests and professional entertainment. It is an all-day event ending with a disc jockey playing music in the parking lot and a dance. People from all over the county and the neighboring county attend this event every year.
Prior to 2014, Irrigon Church members avoided this event because they felt it was not a proper Sabbath activity. Instead, church members volunteered to clean up the park on Sunday as a contribution to the community. Members came to believe the festival would be a good opportunity to reach out to the folks in the area and let them know about the services the church offers the community. Irrigon members mainly wanted to promote their Family Closet to the community. At the Family Closet, members give away clothes, shoes, blankets and housewares to those in need. The Family Closet is open on Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. until noon.
The Family Closet is also a diaper bank for the county. The church quilting department makes quilts and gives lap quilts to various assisted living and nursing homes. Members also make baby and crib quilts for layettes for new mothers. Every week, 15 or more volunteers come to help. Irrigon Church had been looking for a way to reach out to the community, and members decided to have a table/tent at the Watermelon Festival to promote the Family Closet.
They gave away free water for everyone, pens for the adults and toys for the kids. They also gave away three gift baskets promoting their community services. One basket was for a new mother with things for a new baby. The health basket was filled with vegetarian recipes, power bars and a membership to a local gym. The third item was a beautiful quilt made at by Family Closet quilting department. Irrigon members asked people to sign up for the drawing being held at 8 p.m.
They also were asking people to fill out a survey as they were signing up for the baskets. Most of the questions on this survey were asking people what type of services they would like to see the church offer the community in the future. This idea was very fruitful. People were asking for meetings about future end-time events, health seminars, parenting classes, and help with drug and alcohol addiction. Irrigon Church may offer some of these services in the near future as a result.
Members have decided to participate in the Watermelon Festival again in 2015, but this time they would like to have another table/tent that will address health issues. They will offer free blood pressure checks, healthy eating ideas and other health-related information. They hope to have a doctor present to give free health assessments.
This project is still in the planning stages ,but members hope it will be even better than last year.