NEW MIDDLETOWN - An 8-year-old girl is doing what she can to make life better for the homeless and needy in the area.
Olivia Helmick began helping others four years ago when she entered the New Middletown Princess Contest, and won.
The contest raised money for Akron Children's Hospital, and Olivia learned from the experience some people need things they don't always have available.
She participated in the contest a second year and after that decided to branch off with her own lemonade stand with the help of her grandfather, Steve Helmick Sr.
Helmick's wife, Colleen, remembers he would shout "Lemonade! Lemonade!" to draw attention to the stand.
The two manned the stand as many days as they could, and money raised was donated to Akron Children's Hospital.
Unfortunately, 48-year-old Steve Helmick passed away suddenly about a year ago and the family moved to a dead-end street in Poland, where having a lemonade stand wasn't practical.
The family asked Olivia what she wanted to do. Her response? Something to help the homeless, Colleen said.
Following some brainstorming, Olivia's other grandmother, Pam Coover, suggested a carnival fund-raiser.
The family pulled together and organized the Olivia's Backyard Carnival event the first time last year. It generated $2,500 for the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
"She has always been like this. She has always wanted to help people," Coover said of Olivia.
In addition to donating money to the mission, Olivia and her relatives volunteer to serve meals there once a month.
Olivia's visits have opened her eyes to need in the area, Colleen said.
"She just has a heart for those people, she really has a heart for the homeless," she said.
Her parents are Crystal and Steve Helmick Jr.
The family is organizing a second Backyard Carnival Craft and Rummage Sale scheduled for Aug. 4 at Welker Park in New Middletown, the family's hometown.
Donations will go to the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley. The mission operates solely by donation and does not receive tax dollars or other means of support. All donations are tax-deductible.
More vendors are encouraged to participate in the event and interested individuals or businesses should call Colleen Helmick at 330-502-3390, Steve Helmick Jr. at 330-599-6958, Crystal Helmick 330-406-7945 or Pam Coover at 330-720-1174.
Anyone wishing to donate items or volunteer should also contact the family.
Vendor tables are $10, with 10 percent of proceeds to the rescue mission. Informational booths are also welcome.
Carnival food and beverages will be available for purchase. Entertainment includes a dunk tank and children's games. Money will also be raised through a Chinese Auction.