Raleigh, N.C. — The promise of free groceries, medical and dental screenings, a job fair, haircuts, children's activities and live entertainment drew 5,500 people to Raleigh's first annual Convoy of Hope Saturday.
The line to enter the Seven Acres of Hope site stretched along New Bern Avenue and around South Swain Street.
Volunteers from 65 Raleigh-area churches, businesses and organizations worked together on the event.
“We just come together to pool our resources … We're coming together to serve the community,” Sean Cordell, an organizer and pastor of Treasuring Christ Church, said.
Local businesses and community organizations also pitched in with time, money and goods.
"All guests at the outreach will be greeted with open arms and will be given nourishment for both their body and soul," Cordell said before the event. “We will do everything we can to make a difference in their lives."
Raleigh’s outreach event was spearheaded by Convoy of Hope – based in Springfield, Mo. – which mobilizes and trains churches and other groups to conduct community outreach programs, respond to disasters and direct other compassion initiatives.
The nonprofit aims high to give people hope in hard times.
Betty Morrison said, “I think it's just a marvelous thing.”
” We need to come together and fellowship together. That's what it's all about,” she said.
Job seekers lined up to talk with representatives of 20 companies. Bo Brown was looking for work. Rather than be particular, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity. “Anything that's gonna be full-time, part-time; Thank God you're working any time,” he said.
Elsewhere, people lined up for refreshments, for health screenings, for free haircuts. The longest line was for free groceries. More than 40,000 pounds were expected to be distributed to those in attendance.
Each person could take home two big bags of groceries for a small cost: Organizers asked them to join hands in prayer.
“Hope is found in Jesus Christ,” Cordell said.
“I like that part,” Myrtle Solomon agreed. “Everybody needs some prayer.”
Saturday’s Convoy of Hope marked a return to Raleigh for the event, which was previously held in the capital city about a decade ago.