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There is a very private side of HOPE in Lancaster that few get to see.
It usually happens just after 11:30 a.m. each weekday when the front doors get locked and volunteers have a chance to collect their thoughts, said HOPE in Lancaster Executive Director Elaine Adkins.
When those doors are closed and no one is around, Adkins said the tears inevitably flow.
A faith-based, nonprofit volunteer-driven organization, HOPE in Lancaster is known for providing short-term emergency assistance for those in crisis.
While they assist with utilities, mortgages, rent and food, they also provide a shoulder for hurting families to lean on.
“You just get behind the doors and cry about what you’ve just seen,” she said, in a voice brimming from the emotional strain.
“It’s just one family after another and some days, you’re just at a loss. All you can do is cry,” Adkins said. “You’re asking yourself, ‘how could this happen to this family?’ We’re seeing new faces who have never been to HOPE in our 29 years. People are having a tough time.”
Those dedicated volunteers learned on Saturday they are not by themselves during the Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association Charity Run for HOPE in Lancaster.
Riders culminated almost three months of work by presenting HOPE with a check for $4,239.11, along with more than 2,800 pounds of food collected by Camp Creek, Flat Rock, Indian Land, Jackson, Macedonia in Jefferson and Wannamaker masonic lodges.
An estimated $2,882 was raised and turned in Saturday during a post-ride cookout Saturday that included an auction and door prizes.
“That’s within $300 of what we did last year,” said ride coordinator Grey Taylor. “Considering how tough times are for a lot of folks, it’s hard not to feel pretty good about the outcome. That’s not too bad.”
The only one in the crowd who didn’t have as much fun as he would’ve liked on the ride was Gary Sowell.
Sowell’s motorcycle broke down early Saturday.
Not to be left out, Sowell made it back home and loaded his constant riding companion, Gypsy, into his pickup for the remainder of the ride.
However, the day wasn’t a total loss. During the raffle, Sowell won a gift certificate to help defray the cost of getting repairs made to his Harley Davidson.
“I can tell you from experience, Gypsy would’ve rather been riding,” Sowell said. “I’ll make it up to her, though.”
The tangible purpose of the charity ride was obvious. From bags of flour to cases of bottle water and canned goods, the collected food restocked the shelves of HOPE’s pantry.
But the kindness and compassion showed by the masonic riders did more than that.
The biker enthusiasts gave some of HOPE’s volunteers a much-needed shot in the arm.
Adkins said it goes to show those who minister need to be the recipients of a little ministry, too.
“These folks are just fantastic and we can’t thank them enough,” she said. “Several of our volunteers are here and they appreciate the support.”
Adkins said it’s always encouraging to the HOPE staff when those in the community give of their time, effort and talents to help others.
“Our people hear the heartbreak and see the sad, frustrated faces on a daily basis,” she said. “It’s just a blessing whenever we can get together to smile and have a good time for a great cause.
“We hope it happens again next year,” Adkins said.
Contact Gregory A. Summers at (803) 283-1156