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Convoy bringing hope to Oahu

  • COURTESY CONVOY OF HOPE / PHOTO ILLUSTRATION STAR-ADVERTISER
    Last year, Convoy of Hope assisted nearly 8 million people in the United States and around the world by providing food, clothing, medical aid, and other needed resources through community outreaches and disaster response arms. The humanitarian non-profit normally trucks in food and supplies; however they are shipping 21 tons or roughly 42,000 pounds of food to Hawaii for their July 23 outreach, the first ever in the islands. In addition to distributing free food to take home, Convoy for Hope Hawaii will feed attendees,
  • COURTESY CONVOY OF HOPE
    At a recent Convoy for Hope outreach in Maryland, 139 people landed future job interviews and one candidate took home a job. In Hawaii, several local staffing companies will be offering job searching, interviewing and resume tips.
  • COURTESY CONVOY OF HOPE / PHOTO ILLUSTRATION STAR-ADVERTISER
    Folks can chow down on hotdogs and hamburgers while they enjoy live entertainment.
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Convoy of Hope touts itself as a faith-based organization with a “driving passion” to feed the world one semitruck load at a time, but in July it is crossing an ocean.

Convoy of Hope Hawaii

>>When:Saturday, July 23, from 10 a.m. until supplies run out
>> Where: Aloha Stadium, free bus service
>> What: About $200 of free food and services for each attendee, no questions asked
>>Services: free family portraits, free haircuts, free medical and dental screenings, job advice and job fair
>>For keiki:free children’s carnival, free school and sports physicals, free backpacks and slippers.
>>Information:Scott Sonoda at 836-4479 or convoyofhopehawaii@gmail.com.
>> Website: www.hawaiiconvoy.org.

If you want to help:

A volunteer rally will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, July 22, at Aloha Stadium. At the rally, volunteers will receive a free T-shirt and instructions for how they can help on the day of the event. The Royal Hawaiian Band is going to kick off the rally. Monetary and in-kind donations also are needed for the event. All contributions are tax-deductible as Convoy of Hope is a nonprofit organization. For more information, contact Scott Sonoda at 836-4479 or at convoyofhopehawaii@gmail.com. Check out the nonprofit’s website at www.hawaiiconvoy.org.

With a little help from Hawaii businesses, nonprofits and churches, Convoy of Hope will distribute 21 tons of food, other supplies and services to people needing assistance on Oahu on July 23 at Aloha Stadium.

Convoy of Hope’s first event in Hawaii, called “A Day of Compassion,” will involve more than 1,000 volunteers from about 100 local businesses, churches, nonprofits and city and government agencies.

The goal is to help some 7,000 Oahu residents. Free transportation will be provided to the event, which will run from 10 a.m. until the goods run out.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Oahu residents to unite and do something positive to combat the growing problems plaguing our community,” said Scott Sonoda, Convoy of Hope Hawaii coordinator.

The nonprofit’s massive carnival-style events are a familiar sight on the mainland where they’ve been in all 48 of the contiguous states. Convoy volunteers also have earned accolades for their first-responder efforts following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the recent tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri. The organization is also known globally for its response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled Japan and prior events in places like Haiti.

Hawaii’s churches, businesses and residents have sent hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of contributions to Convoy of Hope, so now it’s time to give back, said Ron Showers, outreach director for the Springfield, Mo.-based Convoy of Hope.

“Convoy of Hope has had a lot of partners in Hawaii helping us with our worldwide initiatives,” Showers said. “We feed 90,000 children a day in seven different countries. Now it’s time to help Hawaii. We’re shipping more than 42,000 pounds of food to Oahu for this event.”

Showers, who was here doing a pre-screening of the island for Convoy of Hope when the March tsunami hit, said the level of need on Oahu struck him.

“With the economy getting worse and worse across the United States, we saw a real need in Hawaii,” he said.

Sonoda, who has lived on Oahu all of his 54 years, said he’s never seen as many people and businesses struggling as he has during the last three years.

“People here are really hurting and they need help,” he said. “I know that the greatest way to reach out and touch someone’s life is to reach out and touch them at their greatest need. We’re going to do that here. If they are hungry, we will feed them. If they need clothes, we will provide it.”

In addition to taking home a bag of groceries, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a lunch, watch live entertainment and let their children play at a carnival, said Bulla Eastman, Convoy of Hope Hawaii volunteer.

“Everything is free,” Eastman said. “We aren’t asking for IDs or any paperwork. If you have a need, just come. If you can give, just volunteer.”

Free medical and dental screenings as well as free keiki school and sports physicals also will be offered, Eastman said.

“Some children in Hawaii have not seen a doctor since the day they were born,” he said. “Some children can’t play sports because their parents can’t afford the required physical. We are going to fix that.”

Many Hawaii businesses, including the state’s visitor industry, have rallied around the cause, Eastman said.

“We certainly think it’s a good cause,” said Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association. “It’s in keeping with the charity walk and the assistance that we render each year to charity groups. We support it, and we are looking for ways that we can help make it a success.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Peter Carlisle also have agreed to issue proclamations making July 23 Convoy of Hope Day, Eastman said.

The Paul Mitchell Beauty School of Honolulu will provide about 400 free haircuts and goodie bags filled with beauty products, said Joannie Rossiter, owner and director of the business.

“We are closing down our clinic on Friday night and Saturday, our two busiest business days, so that our students and instructors can give back to the community,” Rossiter said.

About two-thirds of students and workers at the business have agreed to donate their time, she said. Paul Mitchell’s distributor also agreed to donate free samples, Rossiter said.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to get out there and change someone’s life,” she said. “We know it’s a very emotional experience for those who are getting the service. For us it’s all about making them feel good.”

Other local businesses like Olsten Staffing Services will provide free workshops that offer tips on searching for jobs, interviewing and writing effective résumés so that participants can put their best foot forward at the event’s job fair or other opportunities.

“There’s so much competition for jobs today that it’s absolutely necessary to be able to make a good impression,” said Jana Moniz, manager and recruiter for Olsten Staffing.

Chai Quiocho, a customer service representative for Labor Ready, a mostly temporary job-staffing agency in Aiea, said the company will hold a job fair at the event.

“This will be an opportunity for families on Oahu to get a job,” Quiocho said. “We will do a survey to determine if they are qualified, and if they are, they would be eligible to work one of our jobs.”

Labor Ready jobs mostly range from construction to warehouse and clerical positions, she said.

While Convoy of Hope is best known for feeding hungry people, Showers said that the job fair and job training are some of the most important components of the day.

“We’ve never seen such poverty as we see now,” he said. “There are so many people that can’t find jobs that are struggling.”

At a recent outreach in Frederick, Md., Showers said, 139 people landed job interviews, and one man actually left the event employed.

“We are seeing things like that all over the country,” Showers said. “It’s great when people find a source of hope and a way to improve their lives well beyond the outreach.”

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