AYER -- With Thanksgiving and Christmas being their busiest times of the year fast approaching, local charities are more in need of support in November and December than at any other time.

Thus, it will likely be with much gratitude that an organization such as Loaves & Fishes receives money raised by a successful Harvest Festival held by the Nashoba Valley Medical Center last weekend.

According to Robin Ivy, marketing assistant for Nashoba Valley, the event held Oct. 20, was attended by hundreds of people, including 100 who participated in a 5K run for hunger road race.

"I thought the festival was a great family event," said Ivy. "We had a moon bounce for the children and everything. It was all free and served a great cause, too."

The Harvest Festival began at 9 a.m. with the road race following back roads through Ayer and Groton before winding up on the grounds of the Medical Center at 200 Groton Road in Ayer.

In addition to the regular road race, a half-mile run was also held for children, many of whom turned up at the festival in their Halloween costumes.

Those attending the festival were asked to bring along nonperishable foodstuffs for donation as well, and in return, they had the chance to enjoy some beautiful autumn weather and the opportunity to dunk hospital CEO Steven Roach into a water tank.

Other attractions included music, food and offerings by local vendors who set up displays at the festival.

And since the event was connected with a hospital, could free blood pressure and bone density screenings be far behind?

Hard on the heels of the successful Harvest Festival will be Ladies Night Out, another event held by the hospital scheduled for Nov. 14. For more, go to steward.org/Nashoba-Valley.