PDT Staff Writer
More than 100 children with smiling faces loaded trucks and trailers Wednesday evening to participate in the East End Parade. The parade was sponsored and hosted by members of Seventh Street Christian Baptist Church.
The church hosted a parade for the youth who reside in the east end of portsmouth to offer encouragement and hope.
Lisa Crawford, who serves as the youth pastor at Seventh Street Baptist Church, coordinated the Christmas parade.
“This is the first time that we have had the parade in three years. We are just so thankful that we could do it this year,” Crawford said.
Crawford said the youth participating in the parade are a part of the church’s youth group which convenes Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the church for youth ages three to 19.
“We try to reach out to the kids to let them know that we care about them, and that we love them,” Crawford said.
Crawford said there is a stigma attached to the east end that many people are reluctant to realize what is positive about this area of the city.
“A lot of times, all you hear about the east end of Portsmouth are negative things. But, there are people who care about this end of town and there are some good things happening here—more importantly, God loves the people here,” Crawford said.
Portsmouth Fire Department, Police Department, Life Ambulance, Portsmouth Ambulance and King’s Daughter’s Ambulance services came out and participated in the parade.
Hector Reffit, outreach pastor at Seventh Street Baptist said the parade is a wonderful event that the church enjoys offering to the east end community.
“We trying to tell the community that we care about them and to give them something to brighten their Christmas season. It means a lot to me,” Reffit said.
Reffit concurs with Crawford in regard to many people’s mindset in regard to the east end of Portsmouth.
“When you talk to people about the east end, everybody automatically thinks drugs, prostitution, and bad neighborhoods. But there are a lot of hard working people in this area. To be able to go out, and to do something like this is a great thing to remind them that there is a church on the corner of Seventh and Broadway that still cares about the community, and wants to assist the community in any way that we can,” Reffit said.
Crawford said the parade generates a certain level of emotion from many who view it.
“One of the ladies that rode in the last vehicle said that as they passed by, the people watching the parade kept thanking us for having it for them. The lady said she rode in the truck with tears going down her cheeks,” Crawford said.
The parade came to an end at the church fellowship hall where the youth were given hotdogs, chips, and hot cocoa. The food and drinks were donated by Tim Horton’s.
The youth also had the opportunity to visit with Santa Claus.
“God can take a person that is completely messed up and turn them all around. We are hoping and praying that we make a difference in the youth we serve through Christ. We want to let them know that with God all things are possible. The one thing we have heard from the parents is save our kids. We can’t save them, but we know the one who can,” Crawford said.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or portiawilliams at heartlandpublications.com