EL PASO – The rainy, windy, and freezing weather didn’t stop the Convoy of Hope from going far and beyond the
call of generosity on its first visit to El Paso.
Many families in the area went to the El Paso County Coliseum on November 23 and stood in the cold in the hope of getting some much needed groceries at no cost.
The Convoy of Hope is an international faith-based non-profit organization that delivers food and provides many services to underprivileged people in the U.S. and around the world. Hal Donaldson founded Convoy of Hope in 1994 in Springfield MO, after members of the community joined forces to help him and his family recover after a drunk driver killed his father and incapacitated his mother.
El Paso Convoy of Hope spokeswoman Lorayn Melton said that the needy families that attended the event were the guests of honor. “We wanted them to feel like that,” she said.
Attendees could be seen carrying bags of groceries as well as clothes, but as festive as the event was with bands playing on a stage, games, jumping balloons, and a puppet show for the kids, most people just stayed in the warm tents where furnaces and services such as free hair cuts, health check-ups, and free family portraits were available.
The 50,000 pounds of groceries came from the Convoy of Hope headquarters in Springfield and from local stores as well. Each bag contained canned goods, crackers, evaporated milk, pasta and cereals.
“It’s cold but seeing many come to this event has made this really encouraging and rewarding at least to me,” said Jose Ramos, a volunteer from Abundancia de Paz church who was working the free clothes section.
Those who came later on or stuck around until 2 p.m. were given the chance to win gift certificates to restaurants around town like Outback and Cheddar’s, but a very special guest would be blessed with winning a new car.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all. I just came to get some groceries with my son and grandsons. I’m very happy, “ said Antonio Melendez of Central El Paso after winning his new car.
Melton said that the El Paso event was made possible by connections made through churches in Las Cruces and yearlong planning. Harvest Christian Center along with many churches around El Paso coordinated the event that delivered groceries to 6,398 attendees.