COPPERAS COVE, Texas - One by one they emerged from the darkness, members of the Copperas Cove community gathered early at the Taqueria Mexican Grill Oct. 12 to take part in Zombie Fest.<br /> <br /> “Zombie Fest 2013 is a fundraiser to gather can food goods and raise money for the Copperas Cove soup kitchen,” said Tanya Balderrama, a retired Soldier, event coordinator and sponsor.<br /> <br /> The Copperas Cove soup kitchen, is owned and operated by two retired Army veterans who are funding it out of their own pockets, Balderrama said.<br /> <br /> Zombie Fest began with preparation and make up from 6-9 a.m., Balderrama said. <br /> <br /> As waiting community members enjoyed complimentary breakfast tacos, makeup artists, accepting only donations, transformed others into gruesome zombies.<br /> <br /> After preparation and make-up, participants took part in a half-mile zombie walk and invaded downtown Copperas Cove at about 10 a.m.<br /> <br /> From then on, Zombie Fest 2013 offered 85 vendors promoting products ranging from health and energy drinks to handcrafted goods, Balderrama said. The event also included four food vendors, plus six different bands.<br /> <br /> “All the events are free to the public,” Balderrama said. “The only thing they pay for is their shopping and food with a portion of the proceeds from the vendors donated at the end of the day.”<br /> <br /> As the day progressed, community members took part in a zombie costume contest, cake walk, scavenger hunt and more, Balderrama said.<br /> <br /> “We are just having a good time and helping out a good cause,” said Paula Dowdy, a math teacher at Copperas Cove Junior High.<br /> <br /> Although the soup kitchen has only been open since June, Tonia Alston, one of the co-owners, has big plans.<br /> <br /> “Right now we are just feeding homeless people and families,” Alston said. “Eventually, however, we also plan to help female veterans.”<br /> <br /> Serving the local community is a plus. <br /> <br /> “It’s hard to explain what you feel inside when you know that you’re helping someone,” Alston said.<br /> <br /> With the money raised at Zombie Fest 2013, the owners of the Copperas Cove soup kitchen plan to provide Thanksgiving dinner to those in need this year, as well as toys to kids in need this Christmas, Alston said. For information about how to donate, call Tonia Alston at 661-0463.