REXBURG- As part of the Summerfest activities this year, hosted by the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce, volunteers gathered at Porter Park to participate in the humanitarian project on Tuesday, July 10.

Blankets were cut and tied, T-shirts were decorated, wooden cars were painted, and much more. All to help humanitarian efforts in different countries and locally!

Dana Rae Bennett, owner of Bitesize here in Rexburg, said this is her 2nd year organizing the humanitarian project.

"It's just so cool that everybody in the community and the dancers come together and it's amazing what we get done in 2 hours," said Bennett. 

All the dancers were invited to come to the event with their host families as well as other community members. Bennett said things that she looked forward to with this project is about everyone coming together and sending these projects to different countries.

"When we do this humanitarian project, we try to focus on projects that go all over the world," Bennett said. 

As the committee chair, Bennett said that they wanted to make sure the humanitarian projects were not just focused on serving people in other countries, but locally as well.

The backpacks that were put together will be given out locally. Hygiene kits that were packaged will be given to the humanitarian center and the kids ones are going to a local grade school in Idaho Falls. The baby blankets and T-shirts will go to orphanages in Ecuador, Haiti and Africa. Wooden cars were donated by a man from St. Anthony for the children volunteers to paint. They will be going to the Primary Children's Hospital and in ambulances for children who are hurt or sick. Bags that volunteers painted will be filled with stuffed animals and other goodies for children in hospitals as well. 

Much work, including the help of the volunteers, has gone into creating Summerfest events like this.

Julie Coray, chairman for Idaho International Summerfest, also attended the humanitarian event. One thing that she said is how impressed she has been with each of the summerfest teams. 

"It has been a joy to welcome these teams here. As we have arrived, we've gotten to know them. Rehearsals are stunning! Their performances are exciting," said Coray. 

Coray said she is grateful to see everyone come together as well and to see that joy spread all across the world. 

"Today, it just kind of warms your heart to think of people from all over the world coming to this one little dot on the map, tiny Rexburg, Idaho that no one's every heard of, and we prepare thousands of articles to then turn around and send out to some place in the world where people are less fortune and we can bless their lives together," said Corray.

The projects will be sent to orphanages in Africa and South America, to Local Family Crisis Centers and school districts, who help underprivileged families in our own area. 

"The whole purpose of our festival is to build bridges through the arts of music and dance, and we touch each other's lives through music and dance, but this unites us together in a different way," said Coray.

Corray said giving service changes people's lives, including those who haven't participated in service activities like this ever before. 

"These people come up to me from other countries," she said. "Some of them have never done things like this before, and they say to me 'This is powerful, we've never been apart of this.' One young lady said, 'I've never done something from someone else before, so I sat and tied my blanket, I thought about what baby in an orphanage would get my blanket. I wish i could be there to see that baby and to wrap her up and cuddle her and give her some love."

Many volunteers who had the opportunity to help with the humanitarian project were from many different countries. 

"We have Basque Country from Spain, Columbia, and India and Israel, and Japan, and Poland, and we have two USA teams. One that's based out of Rexburg, Idaho and one based out of Pocatello," said Coray. 

Coray said there is so much contention in the world, but that the second week in July, the world comes together in Rexburg, Idaho. We're already working on Summerfest for next year, she said. 

According to Coray, what is at the heart of Summerfest is the host families, which is extra special this year. 

"Everyone is having a wonderful time together," Coray said. "These host families have such a warm attitudes towards the people they've brought into their homes. Together, it is just a beautiful experience this year."