Day of Compassion free health clinic expanded to include food, clothing giveaways and job fair

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

JANESVILLE—Look for more compassion Saturday at Freedom Fest.

A grocery giveaway, clothing giveaway and job fair have been added to the free dental checkups and medical screenings during the Day of Compassion co-sponsored by New Life Assembly of God and Mercy Health System.

Freedom Fest at New Life Assembly of God at the corner of Wright Road and Highway 14 started in 2002 and has developed into one of Janesville's largest community events.

Organizers estimate 25,000 to 30,000 will attend the festival, convincing Day of Compassion organizers that the festival is an opportunity to serve more people in need.

“So in a nonjudgmental, simple way we're trying to do what Jesus told the church and his disciples to do—feed the hungry and clothe the naked,” the Rev. Michael Jackson said.

The Lions Club of Edgerton will conduct eye screenings for juveniles.

Blackhawk Technical College will join forces with the Rock County Job Center to help people learn how to fill out job applications, create resumes and find job opportunities.

Convoy of Hope, a worldwide disaster-relief agency from Springfield, Missouri, tied to New Life's denomination, is donating a 53-foot trailer loaded with 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food and toiletries. About 2,000 individuals and families will  get two shopping bags of goods, Jackson said.

Blackhawk Credit Union is providing cloth bags for the food distribution, Jackson said.

“People won't just walk out with two paper bags, they'll have very nice, reusable shopping bags. If a person is infirm or elderly, we will have volunteers to help carry,” he said.

Proof of residency and income are not needed.

“We're going to serve whoever comes through that line,” Jackson said.

With Mercy's medical equipment on site, people who get a bad medical or dental report can immediately be referred to a doctor or dentist for follow-up.

“Mercy has discovered some significant health issues—been instrumental in catching some sicknesses, and diseases early enough—so these people could be treated. That's just a free part of what we are providing here,” Jackson said.

Clothing giveaway items are coming from Love In the Name of Christ gap ministry at Orchard View Alliance Church, Janesville.

“Love INC has been collecting clothing and shoes of all sizes for all ages from 28 of its partner churches for at least three months,” said Raejene Schlenke, executive director.

“A lot of times people can't get to our clothing giveaway the third Thursday of the month because of the daytime hours, so we added it (to Day of Compassion) as a way for the body of Christ to join together to help minister to those in need in the community,” she said.

This year's Day of Compassion is mostly a new event, Jackson said.

“Day of Compassion 2004 and 2005 were standalone, big events at Monterey Park with 5,000 people in attendance,” he said.

“We have had a compassion component (at Freedom Fest) since 2011, but we have not tried to replicate Day of Compassion until this year when we are doing many of the same things but didn't have the food to give away and we haven't had the clothing giveaway before this year,” Jackson said.

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