By Dennis J. Freeman
WATTS — For more than 4,000 people gathered at Ted Watkins Memorial Park, Dec. 1 was a terrific day, thanks to the men and women from Convoy of Hope.
A humanitarian nonprofit organization based in Missouri, Convoy of Hope used 333 volunteers to spread love and joy around to local residents who showed up early at the park to take advantage of some holiday giving.
The giving centered around 10,000 bags of groceries, nearly 3,000 pairs of children shoes, and 9,000 meals that were passed out during the daylong event. Local clergy as well as community organizers and leaders came together to join Convoy of Hope on their mission to be a blessing to others. Jeff Anderson was one of those individuals.
A resident of Watts for a little more than five years, Anderson said that it was essential for local community leaders to come together for the benefit of the community.
“The whole idea of this event is to bring all community leaders together to work for the good of the community,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of us. Regardless of who you are, you might be in health care, you might be in the community, you might be a pastor, you might be a civil servant, but rarely do they all come together. So the whole idea is all of us [getting] to know each other, so we can help each other, share what we have and what we’re doing to make the community better, stronger and do more for our community.”
The event officially started at 9 a.m., but an estimated crowd of more than 1,000 people were on hand two hours earlier, waiting patiently for the distribution process to begin. Once the activities started, as many as 49 agencies representing health, community and veterans services, were open for business. The National Breast Cancer Foundation was one of those agencies.
Looking to get more women in the community aware about breast cancer, the National Breast Cancer Foundation served hundreds of women that came through their tent. But one overlooked agency found a lot traffic coming its way during the day.
While the excitement was all over the place about all the free goodies that were being handed out, there was a tent in the midst of all that ceremonial stuff that added a bit more substance to the event.
There were a lot of folks looking to be ministered to and prayed over. Bibles were being passed out and individual and group prayer seemingly became the place to go for many people who were looking for spiritual gifting. Pastor Robert Calvary of First Chapel in South Los Angeles, said there is a need for the ministry.
“It’s very important, especially with what’s going on today,” Calvary said. “You have people losing their homes, fires, people are poorer today. Today, you look around here, you have 10 people living in a home, and they’re considered, as statistics say, as homeless. We want to reach out to them and let them know there’s still hope in the community, that there is love, that people here care for them.”