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Volunteers prepare for Convoy of Hope

Event likely to help thousands of people

September 22, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Volunteers Alan Carper of Altoona, Pa., Henry Ryder of Greencastle, Pa., and Bob Bender of Hagerstown, left, help Kathy Rhodes of Altoona put together a fence Thursday in preparation for the Convoy of Hope event this weekend at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Local volunteers were out at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown at 7 a.m. Thursday, setting up for the fourth annual Hagerstown Convoy of Hope to be held Saturday.

The event — which program Co-coordinator Melissa Linn said is expected to draw 5,000 people — will provide free haircuts, medical services and food for area residents. It will also provide entertainment and an area for children.

"This event is extremely important to the community, and it's almost like a carnival," said Linn, who coordinates the program with Curt Snyder of Life House Church Bethel.

"There's a tremendous need right here in Hagerstown to provide services to families that might not be able to afford certain things."

Lunch will be provided at the event, including hot dogs and chips. At the end of the day, the people who show up will be able to take home groceries that include two bags of nonperishable foods, Linn said.

The event can also lift the morale for those who come, Linn said.

"This is a great way to offer them hope and encouragement," she said. "It's also a way to send them home with some tangible items that they might need."

Professionals will be working at each location at the event.

"Dentists will be here to provide medical care, and we'll have actual barbers cutting people's hair," Linn said. "This has become more and more important simply because of the economic recession."

Churches and community service organizations will be helping with the event, Linn said. More than 50 sponsors are helping to pay for it, according to the Convoy of Hope's website for the Hagerstown chapter at http://hopeforhagerstown.org.

The sponsors include churches, restaurants, gas stations and other area companies.

The event is expected to begin Saturday at 10 a.m. and end about 2 p.m.

About 1,700 volunteers are expected to show up at 7 a.m., Linn said. In 2010, the event had around 1,300 volunteers, and 4,000 people turned out.

Those who still want to volunteer can visit the website, Linn said.

Parking will be available anywhere in the park, and Linn said at least 50 volunteers will be out directing traffic at the park all day.

Convoy of Hope, founded in 1994 and based in Springfield, Mo., is a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides services to people around the world through international children's feeding initiatives, community outreach and disaster response, according to its website, http://convoyofhope.org.

If you go

What: Convoy of Hope

Where: Fairgrounds Park, Hagerstown

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m.

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