Concerned members of the community gathered Saturday at the Coffee County Fairgrounds to provide aid to the area’s needy, and with the help of Convoy of Hope, an international charity, to offer one of the area’s single biggest charity events.
“For a lot of these people, this may be the only meal they get today. We have a lot of people who this will be the first new pair of shoes of their own,” said event founder and lead coordinator Jamie Harden.
“We are giving away 5,000 bags of groceries, 1,500 pair of brand-new kids shoes, and that’s not counting what’s in clothing. We’re giving away tons of clothing, free games for the kids. We’ve got medical and dental screenings and entertainment going on.”
Hardin explained that Convoy feeds millions of people worldwide.
“They were the first people on the ground in Haiti after the earthquake. All of their funding comes from churches, business and other donations.
Convoy provided the food and other items, but the event would not have been possible without local volunteers stepping up to help.
“We’ve probably 600 volunteers from local businesses and churches helping.”
Volunteer Ginny Textor is no stranger to misfortune, but now having recovered from a catastrophic financial loss that cost her everything, volunteering is away to give back.
“This is what I’m supposed to do – help others,” she said. “My husband and I lost everything, and God restored everything we had and more.”
She said that the way she can thank God is to be a blessing to others.
“He opened all kinds of doors so that we could get everything done that we needed to. We now have food to eat and a place to live and can pay our electric bill.
“Now we are helping others,” she said.
“I love it, I’ve never come to something like this.”
Norman is disabled following a stroke. Her husband is recovering from cancer.
“We though we might need some of this. And two, we though we might come out here and meet some of my friends that I haven’t seen since high school.”
The event was large enough to cover most of the fairground. The exhibition building housed clothing donations, portrait booth and a free haircut station.
Many food booths were populated with area churches donating free hot lunches while throughout the day various local gospel groups performed at the grandstand. The midway was divided into the grocery donation area, dominated by the Convoy of Hope tractor-trailer, and the kid island, a cordoned off area with inflatable bounce houses, face painting clowns and information kiosks and demonstrations by Manchester Police and Fire Departments.
“We’re just out playing on the p
In the building below the grandstand area, area medical professionals offered free medical and dental exams.
“We [all] just want to help people out and give them a blessing. Give them something to eat, some clothes, shoes,” Harding said.
“We just want to love people and help them every way we can.”