By Cameron Rasmusson
Hope comes in many forms, as Pastor Eric Rust of Cedar Hills Church can tell you.
He hopes to address hope in every manifestation, be it emotional, physical, tangible or spiritual, at Bonner County’s first Convoy of Hope event beginning 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3. An effort that has brought churches and nonprofit organizations of all stripes into the fold, the Convoy of Hope is a family assistance event that aims to leave all involved with a brighter outlook.
“This gives families a reason to smile together, and we all need a reason for that,” he said.
Smiles should be in plentiful supply thanks to the Convoy barbecue and other chances for families to eat and play together. But the event meets practical needs in addition to the need for community and interpersonal bonding. Hundreds of volunteers and an army of organizations join forces to offer haircuts, free groceries, medical screenings, job services, spiritual advisers and more throughout the day.
There will be something to keep just about anyone busy. For instance, the kids can get hair cuts or occupy themselves with children’s activities while mom peruses clothing and grocery options. If dad happens to be out of work, he can seek advice from experts on crafting his resume or leads on job opportunities.
For the first year, the Sandpoint Convoy of Hope is already operating on an impressive scale. The entirity of the Bonner County Fairgrounds will be filled with activity and organizations, while the main exhibit hall will be packed with all the sponsoring organizations. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to see just how many nonprofits operate within the community and appreciate the amount of work they do.
“This isn’t meant to replace what they’re doing,” Rust said. “We actually want to showcase what they’re doing.”
The Convoy of Hope is part of a larger body of faith-driven events throughout the country. A successful Coeur d’Alene event has been in operation for the past several years. When Rust and other local spiritual leaders saw its success, they began discussing how to bring it to Sandpoint. Before long, the movement had grown into something far larger than anyone anticipated.
“It was kind of like a viral thing that just grew as more people got involved,” Rust said.
However, Rust said the Convoy needs all the help it can get to ensure it’s executed without a hitch. Those who wish to volunteer can attend an orientation session at First Christian Church, 201 N. Division Ave., at 7 p.m. Oct. 2.
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