Local youth take on hunger

FAIRMONT – Area youth will perform in the fifth annual Kids Against Hunger concert Wednesday at Fairmont Opera House.

Several of the students involved have been a part of the concert since its inception.

“I’ve been involved since the ninth grade,” said senior Nick Johnson. “One year, I was the emcee, then I helped back stage … This year, I’ll be performing with a group.”

Several groups of young dancers and singers will take the stage Wednesday, with all proceeds going to Kids Against Hunger.

“There was an anonymous donation that allowed us to perform at the Opera House last year,” said Caitlyn Parsley, a lead organizer of the event. “It worked well because we had a bigger turnout and we brought in over $5,000. I thought maybe we would have a smaller crowd, but we had people up in the balcony. It’s exciting to see all these different people come together for a good cause.”

A second anonymous donation was received to hold the concert at the Opera House again this year. The first concerts were held at Fairmont Evangelical Covenant Church. Since then, more area youth have gotten involved.

“It’s not affiliated with any particular church,” Parsley clarified. “The whole community is involved. In fact, a lot of different youth groups come out on the Wednesday

“In 10th grade, I watched, and I thought it was a great idea for youth to get together,” said Elizabeth Kim, a senior who is emceeing this year. “Last year, I got involved and I did a glow-stick dance.”

There are usually about 13 acts, and those slots fill up quicker each year.

Different styles of dance, original songs and skits are featured, but other types of talent are welcomed.

“We have a pianist this year,” Parsley said. “We also have someone who is reading poetry … It’s become a more popular event to be a part of.”

The concert is a lead-up to the Kids Against Hunger food pack that has been held in Fairmont in recent years. This year’s pack will be Feb. 16 at St. John Vianney School.

The theme for this year’s concert is “Awake.”

“It’s kind of an awakening from the stereotype that kids our age are lazy and we’re here showing that we can make this positive change,” Parsley said. “It’s also an awakening from where we don’t see the need.”

“It makes me realize the need [to end hunger] is not just global, but also local,” Johnson said. “We can see and contribute to the need to get rid of hunger right here.”

Wednesday’s concert at the Opera House begins at 7 p.m. Admission is a donation.