One of the world’s largest international non-profit outreach events will take place Saturday at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport. The Convoy of Hope will roll into town to set up tents, booths, stages, medic stations and kitchens to meet the needs of at least 7,000 to 10,000 area residents.
Free shuttle services will be provided by SporTran from the downtown bus terminal to the fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Convoy of Hope was founded in 1994 by Assembly of God minister Hal Donaldson, in response to the loss of his father and the incapacitation of his mother after the car they were in was hit head on by a drunken driver in 1969. People from local churches and the community assisted the family by providing food and shelter. Those generous acts gave the Donaldson and his siblings a sense of hope and also a determination to one day help others in need.
Today, Convoy of Hope has a 300,000 square foot warehouse in Springfield, MO, and a fleet of 18-wheel semi trucks. By the end of 2009, the organization’s fleet of trucks had delivered nearly $180 million worth of food and supplies to those in need. That number is projected to increase to $200 million by the end of 2010.
“The goal of the Shreveport-Bossier City Convoy of Hope event is to reach out to children and families by meeting their basic needs,” said Steve Beyer, Convoy of Hope Coordinator.
In addition to distributing more than 60,000 pounds of groceries, 500 pairs of shoes, 7,000 lunches, beauty makeovers, haircuts, health screenings and medical and dental services there will be a job fair, games and activities for children and live entertainment. Emphasizing that it’s all free, Beyer added, “no identification or verification of need will be required.”
Groceries and shoes will be distributed beginning at 11 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last, he said.
In support of the endeavor, Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and Shreveport’s City Council offered the resources and services of the City of Shreveport, Police and Fire Departments, SPAR and SporTran.
In addition, an area network of more than 50 churches and 140 organizations that include the American Red Cross, Southern University-Shreveport, Centenary College, Caddo Public Schools, Louisiana National Guard and countless retailers, businesses and restaurants have volunteered and/or contributed to the effort.
“I first want to give a tremendous thank you to the City of Shreveport and to Chris Giordano, president and general manager of the Louisiana State Fair for the use of his staff, equipment and the fairgrounds for this extremely worthwhile event,” Glover said. “When children and families are facing the daily challenges of a tough economy, it’s a true blessing to have the care and support of Steve Beyer and the Convoy of Hope and the hundreds of local churches, businesses and organizations, that did not think twice, about lending a helping hand.”
“Even in these last days leading to the event, we are still adding services and people who want to help us make a difference,” Beyer added. “We encourage anyone who needs these services to come on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. You will be welcomed with smiles and open arms.”
To volunteer, please call Steve Beyer, Convoy of Hope @ 318.208. 2736.