Honoring fathers, building community and enjoying free fun with loved ones are at the heart of Family Awareness Month events set for Saturday, Oct. 22 on St. Croix.
The Family March will start at 6 a.m. outside Plaza Extra. From there, more than 500 people are expected to walk to Midre Cummings Playground in Fredericksted, across from Budhoe Park.
“It is designed to bring people from all walks of life together, particularly families,” Lillian Sutherland, site director for USVI Minority Organ/Tissue Transplant Education Program, said.
“So many of us complain that ‘there’s nothing for us to do,’ or ‘we have no money to do anything together,’” Sutherland continued. “We try to show that the best things in life are free.”
The first 500 people to arrive to arrive at Plaza Extra will get a free T-shirt commemorating the events, which are being co-organized by MOTTEP and the V.I. Health and Human Services Department.
As in past years, Family March participants will be encouraged to put down their cell phones, stop texting and interact with the other people there, Sutherland said.
Once marchers arrive to the park, there will be live music, dancing and raffles for prizes including cash awards, free hotel stays and spa visits. The activities end at 10 a.m. — a cut-off time organizers set early so families can still do errands such as laundry, Cummings said. Breakfast items will be for sale, with all proceeds going to Juan Luis Hospital.
Fathers and other male family figures will be celebrated at this event and others taking place in October, Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Monife Stout said.
“We’re trying to get fathers to be more involved in their families and to take a much more proactive approach to raising their children,” Stout said.
There will be opportunities to register to become an organ donor, though no one will be pressured into doing so, Cummings said. Models will sport secondhand couture in a recycled fashion show intended to demonstrate “that if we can recycle waste, we can recycle precious organs,” Cummings said.
Students who need to complete community-service hours can get credit through the Fredericksted Twin City Alliance Club by participating in the March.
“We truly see this as a community-building activity, and so we want the young folks to know that they can contribute more than just going out to to pick up bottles and tins,” Cummings said. “This is one activity where everybody can just relax and have a good time.”