Weekend of Hope
Twenty-two and a half tons of free groceries. Two thousand one hundred pairs of free children’s shoes. Thirteen hair stylists offering free haircuts. These are the statistics for an event called the Convoy of Hope on Molokai this weekend, part of a three-day Weekend of Hope. But the humanitarian effort is about more than just numbers and free services — organizers say it’s really about bringing churches and people together to share an important message: helping one another and sharing hope.
Four years ago, churches on Molokai teamed up for the first Concert of Hope, featuring award-winning and well-known Christian musicians from around the state. Separately, a nation-wide effort called the Convoy of Hope has been held on Oahu since 2011, when it distributed 45 tons of free food, marking the largest humanitarian event in Hawaii to that point, according to Convoy media director Bulla Eastman. Thanks to the suggestion of Dawn O’Brian, radio host of 95.5 The Fish, the Convoy of Hope is coming to Molokai for the first time this year.
“It’s going to be a wonderful weekend for Molokai,” said Eastman. “Molokai’s people are so resilient so this will be a wonderful opportunity to bless them.”
Molokai organizers Ed Onofrio and pastors Randy Manley and Cameron Hiro decided to create the Weekend of Hope by timing the annual Concert of Hope to coincide with the Convoy’s visit, culminating in the Message of Hope the next morning.
The weekend will begin this Friday, July 19, with a volunteer rally at the Kaunakakai Ball Park at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Convoy will begin at 4 p.m. at the park and continue until 8 p.m. or while supplies last. Free groceries will be available for everyone — Eastman said the effort will put approximately two bags of groceries in every Molokai home, for a total of 22.5 tons of food. Free haircuts will be offered by 13 hair stylists from Paul Mitchell hair salon. Eastman said the Convoy funded three of them to come to Molokai, while the other 10 volunteered to raise their own money for the trip.
More than 2,000 pairs of children’s shoes will also be given away. Photographers will be on hand to take family portraits, and a meal will also be provided to attendees. Everything is free.
“This isn’t just for people who are homeless, this is for everyone,” said Hiro. “Even if you have a job doesn’t mean you don’t struggle.”
The Concert of Hope begins that night at 5 p.m. Onofrio said music will range from hip-hop to hula, with a line-up that includes Daniel Lehmann, Hoku-award winning artists Barrett and Tara Awai, internationally-known reggae band Christafari, City in the Sound, and O’Brien as emcee. Trinity Broadcast Network will film and broadcast the event on their worldwide network.
Sunday morning, “it all culminates in the most important part: the message,” according to Onofrio. Pastor Waxer Tipton of One Love Ministries (formerly of Molokai) and Guy Kateliela from Hope Chapel Olomana will lead a united church service in the park starting at 9 a.m.
Local organizers have been planning the weekend for the past five months, and 11 Molokai churches have come together to make it happen, along with organizers at the Convoy of Hope.
“You see all the community is oppressed with not enough job opportunities and high rates of milk and gas,” said Hiro. “Sometimes there’s a cloud of hopelessness… This provides tangible things but also a spiritual aspect of hope. The common goal is to help people.”