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Southside Family Fun Fest raises money for Elkhart kids' college tour

Southside Inc. hosted Southside Family Fun Fest Sunday afternoon in Elkhart to raise money for students in Elkhart Community Schools.

Thousands came out for the third annual event.

“The purpose of this event is basically friends, family, fun, with a purpose. It’s like a party for a purpose,” said Southside Inc. Vice President and event coordinator, Robert Taylor.

That purpose is to take a select group of students on a tour of colleges during spring break.

 “It helps a lot of our young women and young men go to college when they don’t have the money to,” said Jayda Griffin, who was born in Elkhart.

“A lot of kids from Elkhart don’t have the funding possibilities to go out and create situations where they can go out and visit colleges, see what college life is like,” said Taylor.

And if they see what college life is like, maybe they’ll form a goal to push toward.

Southside Inc. hopes to raise $15,000 to take 20 or 30 kids to visit historical black colleges in Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi during spring break.

 “It’s not just open to black kids, it’s open to all races of kids, because we know funding is tight,” said Taylor.

Applications open in December or January. There’s a three-part process to qualify.

“You have to have a 2.5 GPA, you have to write an essay, and you have to get a reference. Then, we go through a screening process.--You know you have to be on the right track, too. If you’re on the right track, we’re going to do our part,” said Taylor.

Residents say the event itself helps set kids on the right track.

 “You see the young kids be able to come out here, have fun, no fighting, no shooting, nothing, just having a good time with one another,” said Sherry Houston, who has lived in Elkhart for 18 years.

 “It’s a cliché, but it’s the truth. It brings the community together. It shows the diversity,” said Elkhart City Mayor Tim Neese.

It also helps to make sure kids can accomplish whatever they set their minds to.    

“But you know today it’s nice to see people come along, get together, all different race, have a good time, just show our love for one another, and that’s something we need more of it,” said Houston.

“This is the good south Side. This is a positive community that you don’t see in the newspaper a lot or on the news,” said Taylor.

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