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City Hope celebration brings out hundreds in support of Allentown schools, neighborhoods

City Hope wanted to introduce itself Sunday to the Lehigh Valley. It got off on the right foot, as hundreds of people attended the new nonprofit’s community celebration in Allentown.Outside of Life Church’s location on South Eighth Street, vendors set up along the street to sell hamburgers, hot dogs and other festival treats, undeterred by wind that knocked markers off tables and threw merchandise to the ground. Families lined the street, ushering children with faces painted through the hundreds of guests — the block so packed it was sometimes difficult to walk through the crowd.Life Church, with five locations throughout the Lehigh Valley, formed City Hope this year.Artist Justin Klement of Whitehall Township paints a City Hope logo on canvas during the newly formed nonprofit’s community celebration Sunday in Allentown. (DAVID GARRETT / Special to The Morning Call/)Kids jumped in a bouncy house and painted with volunteer artists from the church. Justin Klement of Whitehall Township set up the canvas for the day in hopes of creating a new City Hope logo and engaging community members.“It’s been a great day and we know it’s just the beginning of something awesome,” said Tara Craig, City Hope’s communications director, who said 1,800-2,000 people attended the event.She said funds raised through food sales and other activities at Sunday’s free event would go to three initiatives City Hope announced Thursday.The initiatives will benefit students, the homeless and neighborhoods throughout the Lehigh Valley.“I think it’s what Allentown needs,” Klement said.City Hope plans to expand its partnership with the Champion Center, the Allentown School District and Life Church for the Power Pack initiative, which provides bags filled with healthy meals and snacks, hygiene items and other necessities to elementary school students. The partnership serves 145 students and City Hope wants to double that number by 2020.The Mobile Closet will bring clothes, personal hygiene and other basic necessities to events and neighborhoods throughout the year as part of City Hope’s efforts to battle poverty. (DAVID GARRETT / Special to The Morning Call/)The second initiative, a Mobile Closet, will bring clothes, hygiene items and other basic necessities to events and neighborhoods throughout the year. The third, a food truck, will regularly serve meals to parents, single moms, seniors and the homeless.The initiatives primarily serve about 2,000 students attending the Cleveland, Mosser and Roosevelt elementaries and Lincoln Leadership Academy.Church members Nicole Lambert of Coplay and Maria Keough of Whitehall Township both donated to the initiatives and attended the celebration.Lambert said she admires the effort and hopes more people get involved. “Life Church really comes together in a fierce way to help the community,” she said.“The initiative here is unlike anything I’ve seen for a long time in any church,” Lambert said. “I’m proud to say this is my church.”Pastor Randy Landis, who founded Life Church in 1990, said he went into this block party-style event with no expectations but was pleased with the turnout. “Working together is the key to solving anything,” he said.Cora Toth, 3, gets her face painted by her mother Corrie, of Catasauqua, as City Hope kicks off its activities with a community celebration Sunday in Allentown. (DAVID GARRETT / Special to The Morning Call/)After a decade of serving impoverished communities overseas, Landis said, the church decided it was time to apply those same methods toward poverty in the Lehigh Valley, where it also has locations in Bethlehem, Easton, Macungie and Nazareth.Craig said the organization hopes to continue working with community partners to plan more events such as a back to school bash in the fall.Meanwhile, she said, the community can contribute to the initiative by buying food from Cafe Vida on North Sixth Street. All proceeds from the nonprofit cafe, run by Life Church, go into local initiatives such as City Hope.Morning Call reporter Anthony Salamone contributed to this story.Morning Call reporter Ashley Stalnecker can be reached at 610-820-6647 or MORE For more information about City Hope and its goals, call 610-273-5456 or email Its website is
Source: Morningcall

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