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Two decades of CAREing

CARE holds its 20th annual Bright Eyes in the Park trick or treating event

A 2017 photo shows the crowd trick or treating during Bright Eyes in the Park at McKinley Park.
A 2017 photo shows the crowd trick or treating during Bright Eyes in the Park at McKinley Park.

Creston Area Rescue Effort’s largest fundraiser of the year, Bright Eyes in the Park, is celebrating its 20th year 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

“The volunteers are excited,” CARE director Mycale Downey said. “We really enjoy seeing all the kids in costumes.”

Bright Eyes in the Park is held annually at the south end of McKinley Park by the bear. Area businesses line the looped drive handing out candy, treats, and other small items to children who are encouraged to come in costume. The business representatives are often in costume as well.

The idea for Bright Eyes came from Patti Rouh who approached CARE in 1998 after having attended Night Eyes at the zoo in Des Moines. She organized the event for the first few years — contacting businesses, decorating and helping set up — before going on to help another organization set up a fundraiser.

Proceeds from Bright Eyes in the Park help support the work CARE does at the city pound at 710 S. Lake Shore Dr. CARE volunteers staff the pound on weekends and holidays and facilitate adoptions as well as raise money for vet bills and other expenses.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Downey said. “It raises a couple of thousand dollars.”

Last year, 560 children attended Bright Eyes. Downey is expecting around the same this year. She said she doesn’t expect the trick or treat event at Green Valley State Park last week to affect the participation.

“A lot of people want every chance they get to put their kids in those costumes,” Downey said. “People recognize it as a fundraiser ... and come out just to support that.”

The event costs $5 per child with no fee for the adults who bring the children. Brenda Strauss will also have an optional photo booth costing $2 per photo. Pictures will be mailed to purchasers a week to 10 days after the event.

Fundraisers like Bright Eyes in the Park help CARE keep the adoption fee at $20 although vet bills for an animal being adopted — spaying or neutering, heartworm checks and vaccinations — often run up to $300. CARE is currently in the process of buying a new stainless steal cat cage.

At the moment, there are 16 cats and kittens and six dogs at the pound waiting to be adopted.In addition to this fundraiser, CARE accepts donations anytime. Donations of dry cat and dog food or cat litter can be dropped off on Saturdays between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. or by appointment. Downey said donations of any brand are accepted, but Purina Indoor cat food and Tidy Cat Scoopable Litter are preferred.

Volunteers are also welcomed to help take care of and socialize the animals at the pound. Leave a message at (641) 782-2330 or email Downey at for more details.

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