MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa – A tragic story from the summer is fresh on many minds in the Muhlenberg School District this fall.
"My daughter knows him and she's in the same grade as he is," said Karin Althouse of Muhlenberg Township.
For parents, the shooting of 11-year-old Melvin Parker, a C.E. Cole Intermediate School student, in Reading in July is hard to convey to their kids.
"Having to explain to a kid what happened to a friend and a classmate, something so horrific," Althouse said. "I can't put it into words, and I shouldn't have to."
But those emotions are being turned into a positive effort by Melvin's school community, as organizers are planning the "Lil Mel Parker Strong Vendor Carnival," an addition to the annual Muhlenberg Block Party at the Temple Playground this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. All proceeds will go toward Melvin's family's medical costs.
"A few co-workers and I just had a few small ideas, and it kind of snowballed from that," said Jenny Neuheimer, event co-organizer and a teacher's assistant at C.E. Cole Intermediate.
Organizers will fill the Temple Playground with refreshments, vendors and carnival games in an effort to continue a tradition and show support for Melvin and his family.
"Anytime a child is injured, no matter what community that is, you're going to rally together, and it gives cause to want to bring everyone together and do whatever you can," Neuheimer said.
She said this is just another sign of a school community that doesn't view itself as separated by grade level.
"No matter what building you're in, it's often referred to as being one," Neuheimer said. "Whether you're at the middle school, the high school or here at C.E. Cole, we all think of ourselves as one school."