Families can have a good time, while supporting a great cause, on Saturday in Cape Coral.
The second annul Kids Spring Carnival will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the William "Bill" Austen Youth Center. The event benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida and kicks off the organization's 2014 "Pennies from the Heart" campaign, which runs April 1-30.
"It's a great way for us to provide a fantastic event for children and families thats affordable," Angela Katz, development director for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, said.
Admission is $5 for children ages 3 and older; adults are free.
"We really look for opportunities to host events that involve children in our community," she said.
The event features carnival-style games, in which tickets are earned and redeemed for prizes, along with activities like coloring, face painting, and arts and crafts projects. The prizes that the children can take home cover everything from Barbies, toy trucks and puzzles, to a sleeping bag and basketballs.
"It's for everyone, but it's really probably geared toward elementary-aged kids," Katz said.
The Cape Coral Fire Department will be on hand, as well as the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile for tours. Professional soccer team the Cape Coral Hurricanes will hold demonstrations, and there will be a J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge exhibit. The Shell Factory will provide live animals.
"We have other fun activities," she said. "We have kids yoga."
At 3 p.m., Ronald McDonald will arrive for a meet and greet, followed by a show.
Children will have an opportunity to register for their library card through the Lee County Library System, while parents - or any attending adult - will have a chance to donate blood.
"There are lots and lots of fun things for children to do, rain or shine," Katz said.
While the event enables the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida to reach out into the community, it also helps the organization spread awareness of and raise funds for its programs.
Last year, the Kids Spring Carnival raised about $1,500.
"Several hundred children came through the door," she said.
Organizers hope to raise $2,500 during this year's event.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida's mission is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children, and it serves five counties.
Proceeds from Saturday's event will support the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families with children receiving medical treatment in the area, and the mobile is a medical facility on wheels.
"When families are close by, children heal faster," Katz said of the house.
The event also helps to educate the public on "Pennies from the Heart," an annual fund-raising campaign. Throughout the month of April, pennies and other currency are collected by area schools, businesses and neighborhoods for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida.
Awards are given to those who collect the most, like the "Copper Penny Award" for the top school.
Last year, "Pennies from the Heart" raised about $126,000 for the organization. The campaign theme this year is "Fill the House," and there is a "house" at the office that people can drop their coins in.
"Our goal is to fill the house and make a difference," she said.
To participate in "Pennies from the Heart," contact Angela Katz at (239) 437-0202 for more information. People can also visit the Web site at: www.rmhcswfl.org to fill out the form.
"If they need any supplies, we can reach out to them," she said.
At the Kids Spring Carnival, food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Local businesses and vendors supporting the event will be on site.
"The children just have a fantastic time," Katz said. "They don't want to leave."
Visit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida online for more information.
The William "Bill" Austen Youth Center is at 315 S.W. 2nd Ave. It is located behind Sun Splash Family Waterpark, which is off of Santa Barbara Boulevard, just south of Pine Island Road.