MERCED — Organizers estimated more than 350 children and adults visited a south Merced church Friday during the one-year anniversary of a 15-year-old's murder.
Calvary Assembly of God got an assist from the Merced County Sheriff's Department to put together a ramped-up meeting of the Isaiah Project.
The weekly drop-in program inside the church is designed to keep kids off the streets, and is named after Isaiah Romero.
"It was wonderful," said Eleanor Romero, the grand- mother of Isaiah, a 15-year-old shot to death July 20 of last year.
"It shows us that there's a purpose behind this," she said about the turnout.
The regular meetings of the Isaiah Project top off at about 140 children, organizers said.
On Friday, children played basketball, rode water slides, jumped in bounce houses and ate barbecue.
Romero said the Isaiah Project meets many needs for local families and children, whether they are hungry for a meal or in need of a hug.
"If there's anybody out there that goes through what we went through, this could maybe lead them to a direction that could provide comfort," she said. "It just really blessed me."
Reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.