Ann Purcell said the parade would be between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 on the Marietta Square. Families are invited to bring their children, newborns to around 10 years old, in their Halloween costumes to parade around the outer sidewalk of Glover Park.
Participants are encouraged to bring at least four canned or dried protein-rich foods, including spaghetti sauce with meat, peanut butter, almond butter, canned chicken or tuna, and beans.
“That’s the main thing (MUST) is always low on because they are high-cost items,” said Purcell, 31.
During the event, children will be able to participate in costume and “Best Wheels” contests, where strollers, bicycles, wagons or push-behind carts are judged on their decorations.
Purcell said the idea for the parade came from a local family hosting a similar event for their grandchildren years ago.
“Grandparents just wanted to see their grandchildren in costume and take photos,” she said. “The event really outgrew their family, and because it got so big they didn’t have it last year, and we really missed it.”
Purcell said she and eight mothers on the leadership team with MOMS for MUST decided to host the event themselves while helping out the needs of MUST Ministries.
“We wanted to help collect food for the food pantry,” she said. “It’s more important to really put a voice to the need in our community, rather than try to act like everything is okay.”
Purcell and her husband, Brent, have had a fond place in their hearts for the local cause since needing MUST’s help a few years ago.
“My husband and I were affected by the economy, losing several jobs in a row,” she said. “We went through a really difficult financial time. If we had not been able to move in with our family, we could have been homeless.”
Purcell said MUST was “very instrumental” in their lives by offering them not just food but “hope by having people for us to talk to about what was going on in our lives.”
The couple is still living with family but getting closer to where they once were. Her husband and a friend started their own business, video production company vLink Solutions.
“We are so much better than where we were a few years ago,” Purcell said. “We are back on our feet because of MUST, our church and the community.”
She started MOMS for MUST through Facebook and Twitter in August as a result of their help.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom with two little ones, but I wanted a way to give back and serve, almost like a mission,” she said.
Through the Facebook page, Purcell will re-post things from MUST’s account like “bare pantries.”
Friends of the group could then see what needs were at the local organization and make arrangements to organize fundraisers or make donations.
The group also encourages parents to help their children find ways to be a part of MUST.
“Kids can get involved by coloring lunch bags, rolling silverware,” she said.
The group’s slogan is “Helping MUST Ministries, help our neighbors in need.”
One of the group’s members, Mandy Harris of Powder Springs, said she wanted to get involved to help “spread the word about giving to the pantry.”
“It’s a local charity … a way to help people that could be your neighbor,” said the 40-year-old mother of two, adding that those who use MUST aren’t always homeless individuals but include families like Purcell’s who have lost jobs.
“MUST is also about helping people find jobs so that they are no longer homeless,” she said.
Harris said she’s excited about the parade because it’s promoting the need at MUST while educating others on what they do, especially children.
“It can help children learn about the spirit of the heart and to think about those other than themselves,” she said.