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Hope, healing, and a haircut | Kitsap Week

Free clothing is one service offered at Operation Day of Hope at the Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo.  - couresty of Gateway Fellowship
Free clothing is one service offered at Operation Day of Hope at the Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo.
— image credit: couresty of Gateway Fellowship

There are plenty of causes worthy of attention, from feeding the hungry to providing clothes to those in need.

But each year, one Kitsap community launches an operation to perform as many good deeds as it can under one roof. That effort is called “Operation Day of Hope,” providing a wealth of assistance, services and free and helpful items.

“I think people should definitely give it a shot, it’s not what you might think,” said Melissa Corona, who has previously attended Operation Day of Hope.

“People may be shy about that sort of thing, but they are there to help,” she said.

Operation Day of Hope is an event hosted by Poulsbo’s Gateway Fellowship, at 18901 8th Ave. NE on Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Operation Day of Hope is a day that Gateway (Fellowship) feels it can bless the community by giving away free services,” Pastor Dave Fischer said. “We know there are a lot of needs out there and we want to help in any way we can.”

Among the free services available: health care screenings, dental exams and treatment, haircuts, manicures, chair massages, family portraits and photos, legal and mortgage counseling, fresh and packaged grocery items, toiletries, new and used clothing, information about social services and more.

To top it all off, the fellowship is offering a hot meal.

There will also be a children’s play area.

“They have things for kids; if the parents want to get a haircut, the kids can be taken care of,” Fischer said.

And it’s all free.

“There are no strings attached,” Fischer said. “Anybody can come, whether from our church or anywhere.”

Wendy Wong was one such person who took advantage of the event four years ago.

“The first year I went for a free haircut,” she said.

“I attended the first year, and I was so impressed with all the volunteers that I started attending the church and have been involved ever since.”

Wong now volunteers for multiple causes, all helping the community.

“It’s a great outreach,” Wong said. “Not only for the people that are homeless, but those who are down on their luck.”

“It gives you hope that there are people out there willing to help you,” she added.

Since coming on board, Wong has assisted with the clothing aspect of the event. She notes that it is a good source for winter needs such as jackets and blankets.

Clothes were one resource that Corona went for last year with her husband and four boys.

“It was actually great because we didn’t have any diapers and we went and got clothes for the kids and for ourselves,” Corona said.

Corona recalled the ease of having multiple needs met in one spot.

“Everything is piled into one place,” she said. “Last year, they had a dental clinic and that was very good. There’s a place you can apply for benefits with the state, and there are different areas to go in and get haircuts and more.”

“It was very inviting and kid friendly,” Corona added. “Nobody was pushing anybody and it was very relaxed.”

This year will be the fourth time the church has hosted the event, which has grown considerably from its inception.

“In the beginning, we thought we would provide food and clothing and any services we could,” Fischer said. “Over the last three events, it’s evolved.

“It was a combination of our pastor’s desire to do something in the community to say we care” and the efforts of the congregation to spread that care a little further.

“The first year we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 people show up,” Fischer said. “Last year we had over 1,000 people served. The number of services we offer has also gone up.”

Now, the event offers doctors to perform blood pressure, legal assistance, dentists, and other services that weren’t part of the first year’s event.

Services like the food bank, however, still provide a significant draw to the event.

“Last year, we opened a little early because the line was so long, and the food pantry’s shelves were bare by the end of the day,” Wong said. “The food program is very successful.”

All in all, Operation Day of Hope pulls together a variety of local specialists to provide their services for free, and is pulled off with the help of more than 400 volunteers.

Information about Operation Day of Hope can be found on the congregation’s website, www.gatewayfellowship.com.

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