July 4 event nourishes body and spirit

It was one of those moments that Byron Bishop will never forget.

Two years ago, Bishop, a percussionist and saxophonist with the group Churches United, was playing the Feed the Multitudes event in Metairie.

“It was my first time at the event in any capacity,” Bishop recalled. “As I looked around and I just couldn’t believe the number of people who were there, those who were guests and those who were there as volunteers. There was such a positive jolt of energy surrounding everyone that I just knew how special this event was to so many people. I was sold that day.”

This year, Bishop will serve the needs of others in whatever capacity he’s needed as he and dozens of volunteers help plan and prepare for Victory Fellowship’s 24th annual Feed the Multitudes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 4. The event, for the poor and needy from throughout the metro area, will be held on the Victory Fellowship main campus, 5708 Airline Drive, Metairie.

“I see this event as part of a grass-roots ministry which helps to feed and clothe the less fortunate among us,” said Bishop, who serves as the pastor of Victory’s North Broad Street campus in New Orleans. “It is all about finding those in need and fulfilling their needs.”

Last year, Bishop said approximately 4,000 people attended the free event, and organizers expect this year’s program could exceed 5,000.

Event highlights include food, music, spa services, a shoe giveaway, and games for children such as a waterslide, face painting and Space Walks.

Food includes red beans and rice, hot dogs, barbecue chicken and desserts.

“All the red beans and rice has been donated by the Salvation Army, one of our many sponsoring partners,” Bishop said. “And once again, Samaritan’s Feet, another sponsor, will give away 500 pairs of shoes.”

Musical guests are POC as well as Corey Hicks, a native of New Orleans who is the chief executive officer of Longevity Music, a Christian record label, where he is also an artist.

Haircuts, manicures and pedicures will be provided by volunteer cosmetologists. Other donors include restaurants, the Saints, retailers, parish agencies, contractors and many private individuals.

Donations are still needed, Bishop said, including paper products, plastic utensils, soft drinks, bottled water, plastic table covers, ice and pop-up tents. Volunteers are also needed.

“Renting tents from year to year is expensive, so if a local company would like to donate some of their large, outdoor tents, that would be great,” Bishop said. “And we could always use more volunteers to help set up and take things down.”

Shuttle service will again be provided to and from Victory Fellowship. The pickup times are 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and transportation is on first come-first served basis. Transportation will be provided back to the four pickup sites after the event.

The four locations are Broad Street campus of Victory Fellowship, 138 North Broad St., the New Orleans Mission, 1129 Baronne St., the Iberville Housing Project at St. Louis and Treme Streets, and the Keller Building, at Tulane Avenue and South Galvez Street.

“From my experience with Feed the Multitudes, the people who attend, especially our guests, leave with a sense of hope and a feeling that yes, there are people in this community who do care,” Bishop said. “And believe me, you see the love of God at work at this special event.”