Exchange Club of Copperas Cove holds inaugural Kids Day at Ogletree Gap
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Exchange Club of Copperas Cove held the inaugural Kids Day at Ogletree Gap, offering a variety of family friendly activities at no cost.
April marked Child Abuse Prevention Month, and with child abuse prevention being one of the core tenets of the Exchange Club, it was a no-brainer to organize an event to help raise awareness and offer a fun time for all ages.
Incoming President-Elect Tom McNew said that the Exchange Club of Copperas Cove, also referred to as the Morning Exchange Club, began planning this around a year ago.
“April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so we decided we wanted to do something a little special since we’ve all kind of been cooped up for last couple years and are sick and tired of being cooped up,” McNew said. “We wanted an opportunity where the kids could come out and just play, be kids.”
Local organizations and businesses had tables set up under the pavilion at Ogletree Gap Park, including the Boys and Girls Club, Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, Crimestoppers, the Copperas Cove Police Department, AVID from Copperas Cove ISD, Raising Cane’s Chick-fil-A, H-E-B Plus!, the CCHS Excel Club, the Child Welfare Board, and the Copperas Cove Parks and Recreation Department. Members of the Grace United Methodist Church Youth Group assisted with directing parking.
Tootytot provided costumed characters and the train rides. There was also a bounce house.
There was also a petting zoo area, courtesy of the Johnson Family Petting Zoo, featuring ducks, chickens, rabbits and goats.
The event also featured a free lunch for children and their families, with 300 hotdogs served during a two-hour period, according to McNew.
The Exchange Club also offered custom dog tags with kids’ names and information as a tool to help fight child trafficking, McNew said.
“That’s one of the tenets of the Exchange Club, the prevention of child abuse, and…one of the easiest ways to prevent child abuse, child trafficking, child abduction, is making sure your children are identified,” McNew said. “God forbid they were ever in that situation, it dramatically increases the likelihood of recovery, plus the kids get a kick out of all the different colors and stuff and having something with their name on it.”
The three tenets of the Exchange Club are child abuse prevention, patriotism and community support, according to McNew.
In addition to the identification dog tags, the Exchange Club also had their Freedom Shrine set up, featuring copies of documents from the founding fathers and the birth of the United States of America, including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and more.
“The other third part is that community involvement, community support,” McNew said. “The vast majority of us have some sort of…additional duty in the community. We all have other things that we do, but being a part of the community and, as Joann [Courtland] has alluded to multiple times, giving back to the community is something that we all believe in and is something that we all take an active role. Things like this are an important part of that.”
Kimberly Weathers brought her two kids and her niece to the event Saturday. Each child got their face painted, with her niece and daughter choosing mermaids and dolphins while her son chose a skull.
“I think it’s really cute that the kids get to come out here and parents don’t have to spend a lot of money because it gets expensive, but they have a fun time, and the hours are perfect,” Weathers said. “To me, I think it’s really cool because this has completed of our first year being here because we just moved here last night. So, where we lived before they never really had things like this, because there was too many people, so things like this is good for the kids and for the community to get together.”
Mary McAndrews attended the event with two-year-old Briley Glover. She said that she enjoyed the event and had one simple message on an event like the Exchange Club’s Kids Day being held in Copperas Cove.
“It’s about time,” she said.
The Exchange Club of Copperas Cove meets every Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. in Lil-Tex Restaurant at 502 S. Main Street.