A Dream Day For Those In Need

Yu Shing Ting
Wednesday - July 20, 2011
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pastor Scott Sonoda. Leah Friel photo .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Believe it or not, some things in life are free.

On July 23, Convoy of Hope Hawaii, with assistance from local businesses, community organizations and churches, will distribute more than 35,000 pounds of free groceries to Oahu residents.

And that’s not all. The “carnival-like” event called A Day of Compassion also will offer lunch, live entertainment, a kid’s zone with rides and games, medical and dental services, haircuts for children and adults, medical screenings, family portraits, a job fair, backpacks with school supplies for kids, and more all for free. No strings attached.

You don’t even need your ID to attend or fill out any paperwork.

So, what’s the catch? “Hope plain and simple,” says Scott Sonoda, a pastor at First Assembly of God-Red Hill and Convoy of Hope Hawaii coordinator.

“Everything is free. No questions asked. We just want to give people hope. At this time, there are people losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their medical. Hawaii needs a shot in the arm of hope and that’s what we want to do.”

This is the first Convoy of Hope outreach in Hawaii. A faith-based nonprofit organization founded in 1994, Convoy of Hope has served more than 40 million people throughout the world through international children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response (including recent efforts from hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, and in Japan and American Samoa) and partner resourcing.

Loads of food are collected and are sorted into large boxes to distribute to the less fortunate. Lawrence Tabudlo photos .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“(In the past) the churches of Hawaii have given Convoy of Hope hundreds of thousands of dollars, so they wanted to come back and bless the people of Hawaii,” explains Sonoda. “They’re bringing in about 21 tons (which equals to about 6,000 bags) of groceries and using us to distribute the food.

“This is not a church event. This is about showing the love of God through churches, businesses and organizations. Today, homelessness is like seeing another car, but the saddest thing is when you see children. Children who do not know where their next meal is coming from. Children who may not have seen a doctor since the day they were born or who haven’t had a checkup in years, and all of that we’re giving for free. We’re not going to talk about the love of God; we’re showing the love of God.”

Gates open at 10 a.m. (people can start lining up at 8), and the event goes on until the last bag of groceries is handed out. All goods and services will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is free and transportation arrangements have been made with various transitional shelters around the island.

People leave with boxes and carts full of food during an outreach last week at Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu. Pastor Joe Hunkin and about 200 members of Lighthouse Outreach Center have signed up to volunteer at the upcoming Convoy of Hope event

“As an outreach pastor, I found that the greatest way to touch someone’s life is to meet them at their greatest need,” adds Sonoda, a 1975 graduate of Radford High School.

“And I know what it’s like for people with no hope because I was a drug addict myself for 30 years. Toward the last year of my addiction, I was living in my car, and when that money ran out, I sold my car and lived at the park for a couple of weeks. I quickly found out that I don’t like sleeping with one eye open. I wasn’t homeless material or street smart, and that’s when I started to get the help I needed through a (faith-based) program called Teen Challenge.

“So, 11 years ago I gave my life to the Lord and God set me free from a lot of heavy cocaine addiction. God restored my life. Now, I minister to those who are addicted and incarcerated. That’s my passion.”

Volunteers are still needed for the upcoming outreach. Anyone interested can signup online at hawaiiconvoy.org or simply show up at a rally July 22 at 7 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.

At the rally, volunteers will receive a T-shirt (while supplies last) and instructions for the day of the outreach.

Donations also are needed, including monetary donations, and new and gently used clothing for men, women and children.

“We’re also asking businesses to partner in what we’re calling Backpacks for Kids,” adds Sonoda. “If an organization can commit to 100 backpacks with school supplies, which at our cost is about $800, they will automatically be posted as a Convoy of Hope sponsor on our website. If they throw in $1,000, we’ll throw in slippers with the backpacks.”

For more information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 836-4479.

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