In spite of COVID-19 or maybe because of it, A Day of Hope served more children this year than in any of its previous five years.
A Day of Hope is a pre-school event providing children with backpacks filled with school supplies, brand new shoes and dozens of services, several of which had to be changed or omitted this year.
The children’s families aren’t left out, and always receive an assortment of household supplies to make life a bit easier.
But the most important part of the event, founder Sheila Karsevar says, is reminding the children – and their parents – that Jesus loves them and has a plan for their lives.
This year, because of COVID, A Day of Hope broke with tradition and was held in the Carolina Forest Community Church parking lot, but that didn’t stop the love from flowing.
There were 341 children registered to attend which is about 80 more than last year. Those children represented 169 households.
The procession of cars was not at all rushed, Karsevar says, and each carload was spoken with personally and prayed for.
The process started at the registration table, went to the backpack station, the household supply pod, then the Salvation Army table where bagged lunch was provided, and then the shoe station where each child was given a pair of brand-new shoes purchased from the North Carolina ministry, Samaritan’s Feet.
Early on at the registration table, families were given prayer request cards, which 91 families filled out, expressing their needs.
Karsevar remembers one little boy, about 10 years old, who was hesitant to talk at first. She told him he could just draw a picture of what he needed on the card and didn’t even have to put his name on it.
She reminded him that God knew exactly who he was.
After some gentle conversation, the little boy was willing to be prayed for, along with his younger brother.
“Their mother said it was a breath of fresh air that someone cared enough to pray for them,” Karsevar says, and adds that that was exactly what the day’s intention was all about.
“We didn’t want this to be a rushed thing where we threw their bags in the trunk and moved them through. We wanted to welcome the families and encourage them and help them.”
The people who provided services or in some way helped make this year’s A Day of Hope successful include Waterford Plantation, Trinity Church, Carolina Forest Community Church, Myrtle Beach Rotary, Capital Vacations, Grande Dunes, Sam’s Club, Ident-i- Kid, Catholic Charities, St. James Catholic Church in Conway, St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach, St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet, Coastal Power Women, PODS, Samaritans Feet, Fred Hoffman with Creative Results Videography, Liennarts Photography, Salvation Army, Pigtails and Crewcuts, Christ United Inc., Dave Klauder CCU Police, Bradley Housing Developers, MBPD, WPDE, WMBF, The Carolina Forest Chronicle, Custom Shirt Zone, Hadwin White, Kroger Community Rewards and Grand Strand Professionals.
To comply with social distancing, some of the regular services provided in other years such as hair styling and vision and dental screening were not part of this year’s A Day of Hope.
But thanks to Pigtails and Crewcuts which provided 500 coupons, the children will still get their hair cut before school starts.
A Day of Hope has become a nonprofit, which allows the organization to apply for additional benefits including grants.
About 65 volunteers and more than 45 services, and a whole lot of love was provided during this year’s event.
“It was,” Karsevar says, “the community coming together in unity, being the hands and feet of Jesus.
“Even though there was social distancing, there’s no distance when the Holy Spirit is involved.”