DES MOINES, Iowa — The summer may be winding down but at Hope Fest the excitement for school is back. Hundreds of families flocked near Drake Park as Des Moines church Palabra Viva Iowa hosted their annual back to school celebration event.

“We are here to bless our community. That is our intention behind it,” said Jessica Chapa who serves as the event director.

From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. the predominantly Hispanic church provided face painting, bounce houses, popcorn, free household items and free haircuts to all.

Chapa said, “You don’t have to be a Latino, Hispanic it is extended to everyone. Anyone can come we just want to bless you.”

For Carolyn Cain, a single mother of two, there was no hiding the main attraction.

“It was nice to come out and get them a backpack and surprise them,” she said.

Free backpacks filled with school supplies were available to school-aged kids.

“It motivates us because we know we are impacting. We are blessing our kids and to see a smile when we give a backpack to them that just warms our heart. We understand that is what we are here to do, which is bless the community,” Chapa said.

The National Retail Federation estimates the average American household will spend over $800 this back-to- school season. Now on year seven, the Hope Fest has helped put many parents minds somewhat at ease.

Cain said, “I’m off work for the past month because of surgery and we are moving so I was actually stressing out about getting their stuff and looking for some free help in getting their backpacks this year. It was actually nice.”

Blessings that will soon bloom into a bright future for young students.

Chapa said, “it’s a very loving community and it just motivated us to do it even bigger next year.”

The Hope Fest is held every year by the church on the final Saturday in July.