The Dream Big Youth and Community Festival brought hundreds of Trentonians to Cadwalader Park as tables, games and food items were set up for residents to enjoy for free. 

Tony Jackson, the Dream Big Youth and Community Festival visionary, brought this festival to life. “I got this vision to be a blessing to the community and youth of Trenton…I thought, you know, I want to do something special for Trenton because I am Trenton born and raised,” Jackson said.  

The day’s goal was to give as much as possible to Trentonians. “The main course of the day is blessings. We’re blessing the youth with bookbags. We will be blessing them with school supplies and uniforms.” Jackson said.

Change Church brought over 500 bookbags and 200 school uniforms to hand out to kids. Trenton youth could choose sizes, colors, shirts, skirts, and pants. This is on top of a hygiene kit that kids are getting. William Johnson, the Director of Outreach for Change Church, said that with school coming up, kids need to be prepared. 

“This is extremely important because the supplies are important…to carry the material. So we are just trying to alleviate some of the pressure the parents face when buying these things,” Johnson said. 

The afternoon was filled with music by live performers, free food made by the Trenton Police Department, and bouncy houses for kids to explore. To top it off, Jackson explained that they raffled off bikes and tablets to kids. “We’re so excited that we’re going to be able to bless so many kids with bikes,” Jackson said. 

Brittany Jones, a Trenton resident and mother of three, won two small bikes for her daughters. “I just won two small bikes in the raffle,” Jones said. “I’m blessed. I’m excited because I never usually win the raffles, but I got something. My kids can have something to play with now.” 

Jackson couldn’t do it alone. He teamed up with multiple sponsors across the city, including Christine Hopes for Kids and Hearts of Skylar.

“I’ll be honest with you, doing things like this make me so grateful that I have the things that I have…I feel like this is my purpose in life,” said Martianne Rich, Founder of Hearts of Skylar, a nonprofit organization that helps provide children and adults in need with items such as toiletries, book bags, blankets, and food, among other items.

Throughout the day, she said her nonprofit’s motto; It only takes one good heart to change someone’s life. “You cannot go to anyone in here, and they’ve not had some kind of mental, physical, or financial struggle in their life…My thing is if I’ve come here today and I’ve changed your life, then you know what, that’s awesome,” Rich said. 

The end of the day was the grand finale as they chose three Trenton Residents to have their rent paid off for one month. “Through a raffle, we’re going to pull their name, and we’ll pay their rent or mortgage for one month,” Jackson said.

Joann Richmond, a Trenton resident, sat patiently waiting on the edge of the stage. Her number was the last one called. There were tears of joy as she walked to the edge of the stage. “I feel wonderful ’cause I’m buying a house, and that is all I need to pay off my house,” Richmond said.