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Convoy of Hope, businesses partner for second Community Event

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A Springfield-based hunger relief organization is hosting a community event tomorrow to help local people living in poverty.

The Convoy of Hope Springfield Community Event will begin at 10 a.m. at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds, 3001 N. Grant Ave.

The collaborative effort is between 125 local businesses, churches, government agencies, nonprofits and service agencies, said Mark Hillenburg, volunteer marketing lead for the event and executive director of marketing at Digital Monitoring Products Inc. 

The event will provide 35,000 pounds of groceries, health screenings, job services, family portraits, haircuts, children’s activities and prayer services, according to Convoy’s event website.

Convoy of Hope has been providing similar Community Events across the country for 24 years, according to its website.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25.9 percent of people in Springfield lived in poverty in 2016. But as reported in the city of Springfield’s Zone 1 Blitz final report, initiatives like this Community Event are helping reduce this number.

The first Community Event held in Springfield was on May 7, 2016, and it provided $1 million in products and services to over 8,000 attendees, according to event partner the city of Springfield in its Zone 1 Blitz final report. Over 2,600 volunteers gave their time, including many from local businesses.

Sponsor and volunteer partner Mattax Neu Prater Eye Center Inc. will be on-site, providing free eye screenings and glasses, said Melanie Davenport, the company’s patient experience manager.

In 2016, Mattax Neu Prater provided 1,500 eye screenings and 450 pairs of glasses to attendees, said Dr. Thomas Prater.

“We expect to top that number this year, as this is the only opportunity many of these patients have to get a quick pressure check and vision screening with free glasses,” he said. “This year, we are working in conjunction with Missouri State [University]. They will be providing pediatric screenings.”

Davenport said 30 of the eye center’s staff and some family members plan to volunteer this year. 

“It’s just a good opportunity to serve the community,” she said. “It’s humbling to see the need in the community; it’s easy to overlook.

"I think this can be eye-opening.”

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