HARRISBURG -- A summer program designed to provide activities for local children and their families showed enough interest that its organizer may plan future events.
"Harrisburg Gives Back" was organized by Harrisburg resident Cindy Winters, following a city-wide meeting about discouraging violence. During a portion of that meeting, many residents cited a need for positive activities for local children.
That's when Winters, who also operates Miss Cindy's Learning Daycare, got the idea to provide a free activity for local children.
"I'm a Christian, and I was reminded of a particular proverb about people telling those in need that they would pray for them but not actually help them," she said. "There was a video I saw where a man interviewed a homeless man and asked him what he needed. The homeless man said he was cold, so the first man gave him the coat off of his back."
Winters began arranging to book Saturday afternoon swim sessions at the Harrisburg Township Park Pool, sponsored by local businesses. She said the response was quick.
"Within a week and a half, we had sponsors for all the sessions. A couple of businesses contacted me, and the rest were quick to say yes when I contacted them," she said.
She also credited Harrisburg resident Elizabeth Cossette with playing a vital role in seeking business sponsors, especially for Saturday night's "Movie in the Park," whereby local businesses provided prizes for children.
"Elizabeth did a great job," Winters said.
The swim sessions were extremely popular during the course of the summer, she said, and only one was canceled due to inclement weather.
"The lowest turnout we had was 120, and the biggest one had 405 people," Winters said.
She said she wanted to commend area businesses who participated in providing the activity.
It's also been so popular, other communities have taken notice, she said.
"I've been contacted by a couple of other towns where they're thinking of doing something like this," she said.
Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek, who called the city-wide meeting to hear suggestions about preventing violence said he had high praise for the program.
"I want to thank Cindy and everyone that helped her. It was a great program and I hope we can do it every year," McPeek said.
Winters, along with her husband Wayman Winters, said they have discussed trying to do a fall program as well in the park.
"There will be some beautiful fall evenings coming up that would be perfect to have an activity there," she said.