Project Help’s Family Fall Festival plenty of fun ...

Project Help’s Family Fall Festival plenty of fun for everyone

MTSU freshman Dalton Burton, a psychology and dance major, offers a handful of sprinkles to one young chef as another eyes their creation at the cookie-decoration station at Project Help’s Family Fall Festival Oct. 18. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Mix a dollop of face paint, a handful of cupcake sprinkles and some pumpkin-seed-covered giggles in a sandbox, then let it all bake in a sunny fall afternoon.

That’s the recipe for Project Help’s Family Fall Festival every year at MTSU, and the result is always delicious — and sometimes hilarious.

Families, friends, teachers, neighbors and community supporters turned out Thursday to spend the afternoon with the kids of Project Help, Rutherford County’s only community- and center-based program serving very young children, including those with special needs.

The festival, enhanced by the breezy October blue skies, welcomed dozens of visitors with snacks, games and the MTSU Dairy’s always-crowd-pleasing chocolate milk. Several members of the Blue Raider football team and coaches took a break from practice to carve pumpkins, and Brad Hopkins, a former Tennessee Titan and current sports radio host, stopped by for a quick visit with the Project Help kids, too.

“The goal is to provide our children and their families with an afternoon filled with free, fun and fabulous fall festivities,” said Director Susan Waldrop. “The weather’s cooperated beautifully and we’ve all been having a great time!”

Founded in 1983, the nonprofit Project Help provides free early-intervention and family-support services to toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays. It currently serves 68 children, including 45 with special needs.

Project Help’s progressive preschool serves children from 15 months to 3 years old. The new “Project Help Prep” for children ranging from 3 years old to kindergarten currently offers a half-day, tuition-only program four days a week.

The center’s staff, which includes more than 150 student volunteers each semester, works with parents through family-support programs that include workshops, one-to-one interactions and informal training seminars.

For more details about Project Help and its services, visit

— Gina E. Fann (

A bouncy castle slide brings out the giggles at Project Help’s Family Fall Festival Oct. 18.

A pair of Project Help supporters, disguised as SuperDad and SuperKid, frost some supercookies at the 2012 Family Fall Festival.

MTSU Blue Raider Zachary Lopez, left, applies his artistic skills to a Project Help pumpkin as teammate Aaron Davis offers suggestions and fellow Blue Raider Carlos Lopez, center, holds up his finished work at the Family Fall Festival.