The 10th annual HopeFest this Saturday provides a great opportunity for the community to come together and proactively bring change to youth and elders who have reason to hope for a brighter future.

Pastor James Wilkins said HopeFest is Christian based and is planned by The Nehemiah Project. The Project’s mission is to share hope with their neighborhoods, schools and community and to bridge the generational and racial gap.

“We like Jesus to go in their heads and the highways and find those that are lost and distraught and invite them to our table where they can come feel like they have a place,” Wilkins said.

Leon Person, one of Wilkins’ best friends, was the visionary for HopeFest and James Browning, another one of Wilkins’ best friends, did the legwork to get the original event off the ground. Person wanted to share hope and love with his community, so in 2008 Wilkins invited community members to a park to eat. Over the years the event grew to include hundreds of people.

The community can come together on one accord at HopeFest. Wilkins believes there’s hope for everyone and that we can live in the world together.

“We come together to see that we are not so different, but we were all made in God’s creation as human beings,” Wilkins said.

The event is free for customers. Vendors and churches donate their time and resources.

“Neighbors come out to love on neighbors,” Wilkins said.

HopeFest takes place Sept. 21 from noon to 6 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The park is located at 201 South Main St. Emporia.

To donate to HopeFest, send checks and money orders to The Nehemiah Project at 1638 Low Ground Road, Emporia, VA 23847. Donations are tax deductible. A letter with a tax ID number will be sent to those who donate.