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Funding needs through a day of fun

Forever Green raises money for the community with eighth annual Fun Fair
Carter Lose, of North Liberty, is surprised by the weight of a nozzle and fire hose while checking out a display of the Coralville Fire Department’s Engine 73 during Forever Green’s eighth annual Fun Fair Saturday, Aug. 24 (photos by Chris Umscheid.)

CORALVILLE– For the eighth year, the staff at Forever Green Landscape and Garden Center held their annual Fun Fair, a free day of games and activities.
The Saturday, Aug. 24, event raised money for three organizations: the North Liberty Back 2 School Bash, The Dream Center (afterschool programs/parenting groups in the Iowa City schools) and local junior high and high school student Family Resource Centers.
“It started small, it started as four or five little games, we thought it’d be a fun afternoon… and over the years, it’s just grown and taken on a life of its own,” said Lucy Hershberger, co-owner of Forever Green. “This is truly a community event because we have 10 business sponsors. We have 12 non-profit organizations that are here (such as the Bur Oak Land Trust, the Iowa City Friends of the Animal Shelter and the Iowa Children’s Museum). Hy-Vee came and provided all of the food for the lunch, so all of the money raised at the meal goes toward those organizations.”
In addition, the business sponsors also all made donations.
“It’s really become a huge, huge event,” Hershberger said
While the grounds were packed with events and people, Forever Green was also very much open for business with parking reserved for customers, and neighbor Performance Fitness provided their lot for attendees.
Hershberger said last year’s event counted 1,700 people through the gate and subsequent Facebook postings have called this year’s participation a “record attendance.”
Twenty-six raffle winners were drawn with prizes ranging from a bug box and magnifier to movie passes, a “Big Kids’ Month of Fun” workout package, and a tractor. In addition to the raffle, kid’s crafts, displays from the Coralville Fire and Police Departments, the University of Iowa’s AirCare One helicopter ambulance, games and bouncy houses were on-site.
“We had people coming in 10 minutes before we opened, and it’s been going ever since,” Hershberger said a little around noon.
Forever Green started the event in conjunction with an organization called To Gather Together, which raised money for school supplies for kids in need.
“I had heard about their school supply distribution, and volunteered, and saw what those people were doing. So we did our first six events for them,” explained Hershberger.
However, it became too large of an undertaking for the group and the program was ended.
“They were two women who saw the need, and they just volunteered their time,” Hershberger added.
About the same time, The North Liberty Community Pantry and other groups and organizations started their “Back 2 School Bash,” and Forever Green jumped onboard, and also began their partnership with The Dream Center and the Family Resource Centers.
“Once we met the high schools and talked to the student-family advocates, they said their need for hygiene products is just desperate. And, there’s no funding. There’s nobody to buy them for them, so if somebody needs something, and it’s not there, it’s just not there,” she said.
She was also impressed with The Dream Center, and the work they do. “They’re trying to do so much, with so little, we figured we could help out a little bit, give them funding for some of their programs, too.”
North Liberty’s Back 2 School Bash was held on Friday, Aug. 16, with Forever Green providing 200 shoes, paid for with funds raised during the 2018 Fun Fair. Over 550 students in total were served at the event, receiving shoes, socks and underwear, haircuts, backpacks, school supplies, toiletries, and food.
“It’s amazing because you look at all these people and we tell them what we’re trying to raise money for, and they’re amazing,” Hershberger said. “The people who show up for this really pour their hearts out into it. It’s really impressive.”