By Elena Cawley, Staff Writer
Organizers say up to 4,000 attendees are expected at this year’s One Day of Hope event, set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Coffee County Fairgrounds in Manchester.
One Day of Hope, now in its sixth year, provides necessities and services to those in need in Coffee County.
The group partners with Good Samaritan to set up the event, hoping to assist everyone who needs help, according to Judy Jenkins, one of the event’s organizers.
Attendees will receive various items and services, including groceries, books, haircuts, clothing and shoes. All items and services will be free.
Those who attend will also have the opportunity to receive job and career advice, medical and dental screening and family portraits.
Hygiene products, including napkins, deodorants, razors, shampoos, toothpaste and toothbrushes, will be offered, as well. Free lunches will consist of hot dogs, juice and soda.
“This year, we are also going to offer fingerprinting and provide DNA sample swabs to the parents who bring their children to the event,” Jenkins said. “This will help identify the children. So if the children are kidnapped and some verification of who they are is needed, the parents would have it. This service has been proven to help locate children.”
A photograph of the child will also be given to the parents as part of the identification program, according to Jenkins.
“We are going to make sure every child gets a treat bag,” she said. “We want the children to feel there is something special for them on that day.”
A “kids’ zone” will offer free books, some of them for bilingual children, who will be able to enjoy rides and games in that area.
“Not only will we provide free books, but we will provide information to help people finish high school or to enter into college,” Jenkins said.
Representatives of the Literacy Council and Tennessee Reconnect will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice.
“We are hoping to plant some seeds so some of these individuals, who at times may feel hopeless, can restart their education,” Jenkins said.
The value of the donated items and services is several hundred thousand dollars, according to Jenkins.
Initially, the program was initiated by Convoy of Hope, a national organization helping communities establish volunteer groups in areas where assistance is needed, said Jenkins.
“This group came in the area six years ago to help us get organized,” she said. “They were here only for the first two years, and we have been on our own for the last four years.”
All items and services are free to those who attend the event at the fairgrounds. One of the services provided is the medical and dental screening, according to Jenkins. Some people will receive help immediately, and some will make appointments to visit the dentist or doctor at a later time.
There will be an area with clothing for people of all sizes and ages, and for any season. Clothing will be organized on hangers, with separate areas offering outfits for women, men and children, said Jenkins.
“Many people struggle and a little bit of help can make a huge difference in their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” said Jenkins.
This event wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers and 75 churches donating money, items and time, according to Jenkins.
“One Day of Hope is totally financed by volunteer contributions from churches, individuals and organizations that recognize that we have a humanitarian duty to help those in need,” she said.
Local banks, medical and other organizations and individuals provide all items and services for the event. The food is purchased in bulk through Good Samaritan.
“We invite everyone from Coffee County to attend,” Jenkins said.
Many volunteers are expected at the fairgrounds to assist the organizers, according to Jenkins.
“We will have about 700 volunteers ready to work,” she said. “We want people to leave the event on an upbeat note and knowing they are loved by their neighbors. Our hope is that one act of kindness passed along to someone else will resolve in positive changes.”
The fairgrounds are located at 99 Lakeview Drive in Manchester.
For more information, call (931) 222-5033, or visit www.southernoutreach.com.