Day of Hope planned for community

Published 8:32 am Friday, March 12, 2010

FRANKLIN—Hope Charitable Services, a faith-based nonprofit organization based in Hampton Roads, is partnering with the Franklin Vicinity Ministerial Conference to provide uplifting choir music and distribute goods to those in need during two events next week.

The “Day of Hope” festivities will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Franklin Church of God, located at 2219 Carrsville Highway. The Lee University Choir, an active ministering choir with 90 members, will perform.

“What this is designed to do is get your mind somewhat off of your fear,” Franklin Church of God Bishop James Ashby said Wednesday. “We just feel that a voice from the church (is needed) to say that God is still on the throne and he loves you. We turn our hearts to him and roll up our sleeves and somehow God makes a way for us, so be encouraged.”

Ashby added, “When this community pulls together there is a lot of energy here. We will survive by the grace of God. We want the community to know that you’re not alone in this. There are churches praying weekly about this.”

On Thursday morning two tractor-trailers loaded with goods — including food, household products, hygiene items, new clothing, school supplies and diapers — will arrive at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, located at 683 Oak St. in Franklin.

Lee University Choir members will unload the trucks by hand and will distribute the items to people in the community from 4 to 7 p.m.

“The Franklin community has been a solid partner to our organization,” Bishop Frank Allen, executive director for Hope Charitable Services, said Wednesday. “When we’ve shipped goods to Appalachia, the Eastern Shore (of Virginia) and into the poverty-stricken nations of the Caribbean, different individuals from this community have partnered with us and gone on those trips, driven those trucks and made significant contributions towards those programs.”

Allen said the contents of the two tractor-trailers were valued at $100,000 and could benefit as many as 600 families. People seeking a donation would need to show an ID to show that they are from the community.

“These are hard times and we’re trying to use our limited resources to motivate local churches and faith-based groups in the community to use their energy to find solutions,” Allen said. “We’re afraid that (otherwise) negativity will set in and people will start turning on each other and fear and challenges could cause more strain in the community.”

Dr. Peggy Scott, senior pastor of Fellowship Around the Word Church and president of Peggy Scott Ministries, said hard economic times, including the upcoming closure of the International Paper Co. mill in Franklin and the loss of 1,100 jobs, had the community worried.

“People are e-mailing church members and asking them to pray about this,” Scott said Wednesday. “It’s increasing the level of requests for the church and pastors to pray for members of the community. It is higher than I ever remember it.”

Scott added that next week’s events “are going to be a lot of help to this community, and a lot of people will have their level of hope rise because of this.”

Hope Charitable Services has its main offices in Portsmouth and has warehouses in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk. According to Allen the organization has worked in 26 countries, and has recently been involved with sending aid to earthquake victims in Haiti.

The Franklin Vicinity Ministerial Conference is an affiliation of between 35 and 40 local churches.

“We just wanted to step in and say there’s hope and we’re here with you,” Allen said.