On an unusually balmy day in Baltimore, Md., hundreds of students packed into the gym at the Chick Webb Recreation Center to take part in a mini-Convoy of Hope community outreach event complete with free food, haircuts, school supplies and portraits with National Football League players.
“This is the best day of school ever,” said one student as he waited in line for a free pair of shoes from Convoy of Hope partner, Samaritan’s Feet.
On the playground dozens of students played catch with players who also manned inflatable play structures and spent time encouraging the children to stay in school.
“This outreach is a snapshot of one of our regular community outreach events,” says Michael Redmon, vice president of Global Initiatives for Convoy of Hope. “In partnership with the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation and the NFL players, our goal was to give all the students some much needed supplies and a little bit of hope.”
Hope is oftentimes a rare commodity for many of the children who call this community home. “Ninety-nine percent of the children in my school are on the free-lunch program,” said one teacher. “Many of the children represented here come to school just so they can get something to eat.”
The hunger problem is so dire that the director of the recreation center began a feeding program. “Each day we feed at least 50 children,” says Tracey Estep, the director. “Hunger is a big problem in this community.”
To help Estep’s work, Convoy of Hope left several pallets of food at the recreation center that Estep says will be, “instrumental to what we do because we hate to turn any hungry child away.”
As the day came to an end one mother — who could have been speaking for dozens of mothers — summed up the day’s activities best when she said, “If it wasn’t for all these organizations coming together, many of these children wouldn’t get a chance for a day like this … Everything is just so expensive now days.”