ELKHART — The warm weather drew hundreds of members of the Latinx community to celebrate Dia del Nino, translated into English as Children’s Day, a traditional Mexican holiday, on Saturday at Church Communities Services in Elkhart.

Children played around the bounce houses, slid down slides, received balloon art from a balloon artist, made their own beaded bracelets, and got their faces painted.

“Today we’re having on of our outreach initiatives with in the Hispanic community,” said Church Community Services Director of Community Outreach Yolo Lopez Demarco.

Church Community Services Executive Director Tom McArthur also reflected on the event.

“We’ve been doing this for 53 years and this is our first dedicated event to get to know their needs and understand the Latinx community period,” McArthur said. “This is the first of our annual outreach to children here especially it’s a Mexican holiday with all of our neighbors, especially from the Latinx community.

“So it’s a very intentional outreach to that community and tell them we’re here, we’re here to serve them and their families. Let’s just have some fun and talk about it.”

COVID-19 played a role in planning for this year’s event.

“This arose from COVID-19, with a lot of people needing help with in the pandemic,” Demarco said. “Church Community Services wanted to know how they could inform the Hispanic community about the services they offer, so they hired me. Part of my role is to create small events where this Hispanic community can feel safe and welcome and also something that is culturally oriented as well for them.”

Demarco said that the event was intended for the outdoors.

“We’re still requiring face masks, we have a lot of hand sanitizer at every table, we have volunteers who have been phenomenal taking temperatures, making sure people have their face masks, and if they don’t we have some extra,” she said. “We even have couple bounce houses, and a balloon artist. We’re making sure kids are getting hand sanitizer. This is overall still a safe and fun event despite of COVID-19 the fact that we need to wear face masks.”

Demarco said encouraged those that might want to take part in this initiative to contact Church Community Services.

“We will be looking for more volunteers, especially you speak Spanish its a bonus, but if not we still could use your help,” she said. “Anybody that wants an awesome experience with the Hispanic culture that is different and warm. We invite you to get a hold of us and see how you can be a part of this initiative. You can contact our volunteer coordinator Naomi. Its on our website, so if go to https://www.churchcommunityservices.org/, you can click on the button “I want to help” and someone will be in contact with you.”

Demarco touched on the goals of the event.

“The first goal is for the kids to have fun,” she said. “This is a Mexican Holiday, it’s celebrated on April 30, but because of schedule conflicts we had to have it today.

“So have fun each family comes through is getting a brochure to learn about (CCS) Church Community Services. It’s in English and Spanish. We’re also introducing them to our food pantry, so while they’re here they not only know where we’re located, but that we have a food pantry as well.

“At the same time there’re asking questions about what programs we offer, that’s where I come in and say we have financial services. So if you are ever in a crisis, you can come here for help. So far people have been excited and have been like wow I never knew this place was here. So it’s exciting to see that they now know where this resource is.”

Joseph Weiser is a photojournalist for The Goshen News. Contact him at joseph.weiser@goshennews.com or at 574-533-2151, ext. 328.

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