Finding hope at Convoy

September 29, 2011|Lisa Prejean

Getting up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning is not typically my idea of a fun weekend, but last weekend was different.

My daughter had signed up to work at the Convoy of Hope event at Hagerstown Fairgrounds, and she wanted her parents to come along.

At first sight, Convoy of Hope may seem like a carnival event. In some aspects, the atmosphere is admittedly bright and fun. This is especially true in the Kids Zone area, where inflatables, games and prizes occupy young visitors.

Yet there is no denying the serious nature of the event.

Convoy of Hope is a community outreach designed to provide resources, programs and services to the economically disadvantaged people living in our area.

As volunteers, we were part of an estimated 1,700 people who worked in various areas during the event.

Throughout the day, the estimated 5,000 people who visited the fairgrounds were given lunch, groceries, dental care and haircuts.

They could receive information on local job openings, health care, community resources and organizations. They could even have a family portrait taken.

Through the generous support of local businesses, community organizations and churches, all of these resources and services were provided free of charge.

Say what you will about "handout" programs.

I say don't be too quick to comment about this one unless you were willing to volunteer for a few hours.

We were working in the grocery area. First, we formed assembly lines to fill bags with nonperishable goods. Then we stood by large crates of produce and asked people if they would like to have some of the vegetables we had to offer.

One of the things that impressed me was the humble spirit that permeated our line. People were patient with volunteers and with the other people who were in line. There was no pushing or shoving to get to the free items.

I was also impressed by people's reluctance to take items that they wouldn't use, and they weren't greedy.

"Oh, I'd rather have onions than celery," one lady said.

I told her she could have a bag of onions and some celery.

"Well, I don't really need celery, but I could use the onions," she said.

That impressed me. Here was a woman who obviously had a need, but she wasn't going to take advantage of the people who were meeting that need.

There were many similar moments as we worked together to distribute the groceries. It was good to be a part of this program and provide a boost to those in our community who are going through tough times.

The volunteers also seemed to be encouraged by the fact that they were making a difference, however small.

Perhaps if we meet in the middle more often, the gap won't be as wide.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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