Hundreds Visit Stepping Stones' Arts Festival - WBOY - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Hundreds Visit Stepping Stones' Arts Festival

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Hundreds of special needs students from across the region were in Monongalia County for Stepping Stones' Annual Art Festival Wednesday.

The day was full of fun for the kids and it's all made possible by volunteers.

Entertaining more than 700 kids is a difficult task, for anyone. For the past 20 years, Stepping Stones has relied on the dedicated help of its volunteers to do just that.

"Stepping Stones is a staff of three," said Stepping Stones' executive director Monica Marietta. "There is no way we could possibly fathom putting on a festival like this, so without the volunteers we wouldn't be able to do it."

In an expo center full of kids, it was the green shirts that stood out. They were the more than 100 volunteers who gave up their day to give back to the community.

"It's so rewarding to see these kids smile," said volunteer Elizabeth Sabatino. "I'm painting faces today with some of my friends, and it's effortless. It's very rewarding, so I love it."

Sabatino may be known across the state as Miss West Virginia Teen USA, at Stepping Stones she's known as a reliable volunteer, one whose whole family gets involved. Every year she joins fellow Morgantown High students in volunteering at the festival.

"I think sometimes we don't appreciate what we have, and take what we have for granted. This event at Stepping Stones really shows you that you shouldn't take things for granted," she said. "Some of the kids with disabilities really show you how precious life is and how much we do take things for granted so it really puts everything in perspective."

And the kids are thankful too because without the volunteers, there wouldn't be musical instruments to play, tie-dye to be made, or even painters to decorate faces.

"I like to play, bouncy house, painted faces, and I get to play with my friends," said Danielle Cottingham, 13.

"I got my face painted. I got a cat because I think cats are cute," said Haley Dennison, 9.

The small event began outside WVU's Creative Arts Center. Now the festival has grown to fill the Mylan Park Expo Center. This year, 720 kids represented 40 schools in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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