The third annual Mayfair Arts and Crafts Festival continues today at the Shoppes at University Place, and the focus this year reaches beyond vendors and entertainment.
Organizers also want to help feed the hungry in a 19-county region that includes Mecklenburg.
Five donation canisters for Second Harvest Food Bank will be set up on the boardwalk among 50 artists and crafters selling handmade jewelry, wood sculptures, pottery and other types of art.
Festival founder Roger Brown is asking guests to bring canned goods and other nonperishable foods.
With attendance expected to reach 5,000 people or more, the festival offers visitors a family-oriented diversion as well as an occasion to make a difference their communities, Brown said.
"We're coming up on summer when donations are down more," he said. "Now is the time to help to get the place stocked."
Second Harvest Food Bank provides food to nearly 650 nonprofit agencies, including homeless shelters, daycare centers and programs for seniors.
With about 405,000 people living at or below the poverty level within Second Harvest's service area, including about 185,000 children, donations are important all year, said Kay Carter, executive director.
Consistently meeting demand can be challenging. Donations tend to fall off in summer, but that's when the need for food increases.
When schools close for the year, children are unable to take advantage of free or reduced-price meals, Carter said.
Food drives just ahead of the summer months are now a goal at Second Harvest.
"Everybody thinks about doing food drives at the holidays," said Carter. "We've been fortunate to have groups like Mayfair step up to do drives in summer."