|Andrew Mansfield, Gardner News
GARDNER The upcoming National Night Out event hosted by the Gardner Community Action Team will be full of attractions and entertainment for a purpose.
The event will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Monument Park on Central Street. This is the third year the event has been held locally.
Originally, the event was to be held in August, but inclement weather forced rescheduling.
The main purpose is to raise local awareness about drug use and crime, as well as promote a healthy relationship between the community and police.
“GCAT is becoming more well-known. Overall, drug prevention is getting more of a spotlight,” said Gardner Community Action Team coordinator Lauren Saunders.
There will be several activities for people to take part in. From 5 to 5:45 p.m. there will be a pizza-tasting contest between the Gardner Ale House, Parker House, Papa Gino’s, Gardner Ten Pins and Garden Pizza.
Live music will be performed by New Hampshire musician Zach Benton. There will be free ice cream and snow cones, as well as a bounce house and games for children.
Several raffle prizes will be given out; they include ski tickets to Wachusett Mountain, several gift certificates to area businesses, an all-event pass from Gardner High School, a tour of the State House with state Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, D-Gardner, and bicycles for children.
Local organizations will host their own resource tables during the event, which people can approach to learn more about assistance with mental health issues or crime.
Some of the resource tables include the Assist Educate Defeat Foundation, Alternatives Unlimited, Mount Wachusett Community College, Gardner Visiting Nurses Association, Gardner Community Action Center, as well as the Gardner Police and Worcester County District Attorney’s Office.
“They’re a big part of this. We want people to come out and be more familiar with the amazing resources we have,” said Ms. Saunders.
Montachusett Opportunity Council Community Partnership will help conclude the event with one of their “story walks.” The walk gives people a chance to communicate about the issues of drug use and crime prevention.
Flashlights will be provided for the walk, which will start at the Gardner Veterans Skating Rink.
The Gardner Community Action Team is part of LUK inc., a central Massachusetts nonprofit social service agency.
The group holds meeting open to anyone on the second Tuesday of every month at the Gardner Police Station, 200 Main St., in the community room from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Ms. Saunders said the Gardner Community Action Team was recently approved for continued funding through the federal Drug Free Communities Grant, which will help the organization continue to spread awareness about drug use.
“It’s harder to intervene when there is already an issue. We want to give kids and parents more tools and resources,” she said.