There was nothing but smiling, happy faces at the annual Alice Storms Very Special Arts Festival, hosted by the GFWC Brandon Service League at First Baptist Church of Brandon. This is a day for young special needs children to go on a field trip and have fun.

On February 18, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Brandon Service League (BSL) held its annual Alice Storms Very Special Arts Festival at First Baptist Church of Brandon.

This event gives special needs children from elementary schools in Hillsborough County an opportunity to go on a fun field day filled with arts and crafts and entertainment. The Very Special Arts event is just one of many service projects that BSL members undertake each year.

This year, over 300 students attended the event. The children were assisted by BSL members and 60 student volunteers from Durant High School, Brandon High School ROTC, Riverview High School, Brandon Academy and, new this year, CATCH (Connecting All Temple Terrace Christian Homeschoolers).

The children engaged in multiple craft stations, including finger puppets, face painting and hat making. Children were entertained by two magicians and with musical instruments and bubbles.

Jeri Robinson, co-president of BSL, said, “This event is just awesome. All of the children are having fun.”

Bradlee Swanson, co-president, also said, “This is the largest VSA to date with over 300 children attending. This is my favorite event. All of the children and volunteers bring a great spirit to the event.”

Deni Kruger, a senior at Brandon High School, has been a volunteer at the event for four years.

Kruger said, “The children are all so sweet and fun. It is good to get experience with children who have difficulties in social settings.”

Similarly, Reva Goldberg, also a senior at Brandon High School who has volunteered for four years, said, “It is something I look forward to each year. It shows that a disability does not stop you from having fun.”

Billie Broughton is the PTA president at Summerfield Elementary School.

Broughton said, “This is our first time back after a long absence from the event. We wanted to come back so that the students could experience it.”

Dianne Foerster, the incoming Florida president of the statewide GFWC, said, “This event serves special needs students who are 4 or 5 years old. It is a wonderful service for BSL to offer to our community.”

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