June 25, 2016


Sweet fundraiser returns to ‘Make a Difference’

MEDINA — After a year’s hiatus, Michelle Powell will bring back her annual Candy Land-themed carnival and fundraiser for the Let’s Make a Difference summer children’s program.

Let’s Make a Difference is a summer education program for children from low-income families who live in the Union Square apartment complex. About 80 children are signed up this year, and the group meets three times a week in the Union Square community room.

A row of giant lollipops will line pathways at Ray Mellert Park for Candy Land, a Let’s Make a Difference fundraiser. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

“My whole thing for the summer program is to build self-confidence, character,” Powell said. “I believe that if we get the behavior down, that will open up the door for learning.”

The Candy Land carnival will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 10 at Ray Mellert Park. The event is free for the children in the Let’s Make a Difference program and will cost $1 for other children age 12 and younger. Adults pay $3. All children must be accompanied by an adult. The money raised goes back to Let’s Make a Difference.

This year, because of a fundraiser for the program at Williams on the Lake in March, Powell was able to do more field trips with the children, such as a bus trip to the Great Lakes Science Center and a planned excursion to the Cleveland Zoo.

The Candy Land event wasn’t held last year, Powell said, because of uncertainty surrounding when the Ray Mellert Park splash pad would be constructed.

City officials have said the splash pad will be finished by the end of the summer.

Powell said she just received permission to host the event from the city Wednesday. The next day, Powell and two volunteers were pulling out decorations and prizes from storage at Union Square’s community room.

At the first Candy Land event five years ago, a Capri Sun box covered with tissue paper became a Jolly Rancher and paper plates covered with cellophane became lollypops.

The decorations have since grown more sophisticated, with painted canvas representing a gingerbread house.

“It’s a community and it’s a family event,” Powell said.

New this year will be carnival games from the TLG Activity Center and a jazz player, and Powell is hoping for a magic show, exotic animal presentation and pony rides.

Powell started Let’s Make a Difference 13 years ago. It began as an outing to Ray Mellert Park, where she cooked hot dogs and hamburgers and played a game of kickball with her own two children and several other kids from the neighborhood. By the end of that year, she had 60 kids meeting each Sunday.

Now, Powell said she hates having to turn children away who live outside the complex.

“I don’t have the room,” she said. “One of my biggest wishes is to get a building, make it my full-time job.”

Powell is looking for volunteers to set up, help during the event and clean up afterward. She also is seeking donations of hot dogs, buns and hamburgers along with business sponsorships.

For more information, email Powell at lmad4kids@gmail.com or call (330) 321-9947.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.