By Casey Geier

Contributing Writer

The fourth annual SYV Touch-A-Truck fundraiser, which gives kids the opportunity to learn first-hand about big trucks and other vehicles, will return to the Bethania Lutheran Church parking lot on Saturday, March 2.

The benefit, which raises money for the church’s preschool and after-school programs, allows kids and adults to climb onto vehicles and even honk some horns.

Last year’s event included a California Highway Patrol booth, which had officers talking about the importance of seatbelts and other safety information.

Organizers expect more than 35 vehicles that kids and adults can explore, including trucks, bulldozers, SWAT vehicles and tractors. The owners of the vehicles volunteer at the event throughout the day.

 There will also be activities such as face painting, bounce houses, a petting zoo and an arts and craft booth. Food concessions will be provided by Tower Pizza of Solvang and Kona Ice of Santa Barbara.

Touch-A-Truck is in its fourth year thanks to an involved parent who came up with the idea. Lisa Petersen Kekuewa’s son, Koyie, 10, and daughter, Kyla, 5, both benefitted from the preschool’s programs.

“We started this event as a way for the school to have a fundraiser that kids want to go to,” Kekuewa said. “It has really grown. Last year we had over 1,000 people show up.”

This event is certainly not a car show. Climbing on vehicles, sitting in the driver’s seat and honking the horn are all encouraged. Kids can also expect to learn about how the different vehicles work, making the event educational if people want to know more about the rigs.

The event has raised about $8,000 each year, but Kekuewa hopes to raise more than $10,000 this year. A new playground was built at the preschool to replace a 17-year-old, dilapidated structure after the first two years of the event. This year’s funds will be combined with last year’s to focus on improving the play structure at the after-school program that provides care for kids in kindergarten through middle school.