A record crowd turned out for Open Your Heart Foundation’s fifth anniversary Good Friday celebrations this year.

Spokesperson for the group’s annual Sandys community event, Tianna Saltus confirmed, this year’s event marked their biggest turnout over the past five years they have been staging this all-day, totally free event on Good Friday.

“We ran out of everything and that was with ordering more of everything!” Jokingly, she said that’s happened before. But faced with a record crowd this year, admittedly, she said they’re “definitely looking to increase” their volunteer team for next year to be better prepared.

“The real work started last Monday by picking up food orders etc. We met at Sandys Middle School on Thursday to start the food preparation of 1,300 fish cakes. We stayed until 4am then went back at 7am to finish the rest.”

On Good Friday morning the male volunteer crew started setting up tents, and other areas. “We finished at about 930pm that night, and returned again on Saturday morning to clean up.”

This year also marked the fifth consecutive year that Al-Rashid Ebbin, provided free haircuts. Asked how many after a full day of lines that seemed like they would never end he said: “I can’t even put a number on it. I’ve seen lines upon lines. Some want haircuts, others want their outlines touched up.

“The majority were school boys and women, the free haircuts are only for them, including senior citizens, and I trimmed up quite a few seniors as well. There’s so many families struggling in Bermuda, and that’s where I come from – a struggle. So what’s one day to give something back,” said Mr Ebbin.

In some cases he said: “There’s people struggling with basic choices like ‘should I   buy cereal or pay for my son’s haircut’. And of course parents will buy food first, but that leaves a lot of youngsters still in need haircuts. And that’s why I make it a point to be here. I’ve been doing it every Good Friday Boxing Day since the beginning ,” Mr Ebbin said.

The local barber who has been running his own mobile service for the past 17 years also said: “Next year I’d like to see more barbers up here to give back to the community with me.”

Another vendor on board for the very first time proved to be quite popular. 5Star Gaming’s portable remote cars for children aged three to seven barely got a break from long lines of little drivers.

“It’s our first time up here and I think it’s fantastic! We’re excited to be here because of the community outreach that it provides. And it has proven to be too popular because we haven’t had a break all day,” said LaVarr Raynor.

Both he and assistant Callee Wray are part of a team headed up by Lyndsy Ford, head of 5Star Gaming founded about two years ago.

Despite a few glitches, organisers are pleased with another successful event.
In closing Ms Saltus added: “We would like to thank everyone who attended and helped to make the day possible.”

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