Convoy of Hope helps feed thousands in Long Island events

Free groceries were provided to those in need Free groceries were provided to those in need during the Convoy of Hope at Kennedy Memorial Park in Hempstead on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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Semitrailers from Long Island Convoy of Hope rolled in Saturday with more than $1 million in free groceries, supplies and services to help feed up to 6,000 people during a multisite event on Long Island.

Convoy of Hope partnered with 124 Long Island churches, area businesses and nonprofits to host community events at Robert Rowley Park in Bellport, Kennedy Park in Hempstead Village and the Alva T. Stanforth Sports Complex in Elmont.

The group is part of the national Convoy of Hope, a humanitarian relief organization active in 48 states and more than 113 countries.

"Most people don't realize the level of poverty on Long Island," said Dahlia Berwise of Uniondale, the Kennedy Park coordinator. "They think because it is in the burbs that there is just affluence, but poverty is also hidden under that."

The daylong celebration was the Valley Stream-based organization's third on Long Island. Hundreds of volunteers occupied fields to help attendees receive free lunch, groceries, shoes, health services, family portraits, community services and prayers, while children enjoyed a carnival with activities such as games.

"The mayor gave up this day for Convoy of Hope to come into this village and help our people," Hempstead Village trustee Luis Figueroa said. "They come to a place not only where they are giving food and shoes, but also hope and prayer."

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Camille Dennis, 24, of Hempstead, welcomed the volunteers' prayers for her prosperity. The unemployed mother also picked up grocery bags and munched on hot dogs, while her children Timothy, 5, and Tatiyana, 7, played in a bounce house and enjoyed arts and crafts.

"The community really needs more events like this," Dennis said. "My kids had a blast."

Jesus Jones, 32, of Hempstead, stood in a long line with his daughter, Jensey, 7, to score a free pair of children's blue and white sneakers. "This is of great help," Jones said.

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