History of CareFest

CareFest® was an outgrowth of the "Supper Bowl" which was a sanctioned event of Super Bowl XXXV. This compassion festival, done the week prior to the Super Bowl, had over 1,400 volunteers serve approximately 12,000 attendees. Over 180 churches and business combined their resources along with Somebody Cares Tampa Bay and the national partner Operation Blessing. 120,000 lbs. of groceries and three truckloads of clothes were distributed. Lunches were served to all participants and three sports clinics hosted by active professional athletes were provided, as well as games and music for adults and youth. Over one thousand people indicated they made a decision for Christ that day.

Afterwards, Daniel Bernard, President of Somebody Cares Tampa Bay, was asked to share with the heads of various departments of the City of Tampa. From this meeting where Daniel shared the desire for the Church to serve the city, CareFest® was born.

September 18-24 was set for our first CareFest® week. The object of this week is, literally, to do all the good we can by all the means we can. There exists a healthy competition between the two cities across the bay in St. Petersburg and Tampa. A friendly competition was declared by the two cities. The city that brought the most volunteers and CareFest® Day would win the Care Cup and be deemed the City of Compassion for that year.

CareFest® grew from those two cities in 2002 to four cities in 2004. CareFest® was literally done in between the four hurricanes that bombarded Florida that year. In 2005, CareFest® was extended in 11 cities. Over 2,500 volunteers participated by doing 145 projects. It was estimated that over 1 million dollars of goods and services impacted those 11 communities in one day. A couple of cities, such as Ft. Meyers and Orlando participated last year. Indianapolis and other cities were doing similar things, but wanted to be connected with us in some way, and are viewed as partnering communities. We are hoping that each year more cities will catch the vision and that the vision will go nationally to many more cities.