“We have approximately 200 to 250 volunteers depending on how [the event] is moving and we’ve actually had to turn some volunteers away because they keep coming in,” Freedom Worship Center Pastor Ronnie Richardson said Wednesday. “It’s a great event the community has rallied to support.”
One hour into the five-hour event, he said it was estimated the volunteers would feed between 1,500 and 2,000 people. It’s first year the event served about 250 people.
In recent years, Richardson said, between 1,400 and 1,500 people have come to eat and receive services.
“Right now with our early numbers this has been our best year. The cold hasn’t really worked against us; it’s actually worked for us and drove people in,” Richardson said. “They’re coming in and getting coats, they’re getting blankets, haircuts, The Gideons are here, and for the first time, we’re offering free flu vaccinations.
“... Everything has pretty much been donated by either our local businesses, local churches and also the wonderful neighbors of Bartow County. This is all a nonprofit deal. Everybody has donated back into this wonderful community, and we’re giving back to everybody who is out there.
“... This is people helping people. It’s just a great opportunity for us all to give back to the community as neighbors helping neighbors.”
According to Freedom Worship Center’s website, www.freedomiscalling.org, C.H.U.R.C.H. is described as “a multi-church ministry that feeds and clothes those that are in need. Freedom Worship Center, along with our local church partners, we will join efforts as the body of Christ to give back to our local community and share the love of Christ with our community.”
The event provided free transportation as well as two mobile Blood Assurance donation buses featuring eight volunteers.
“[Blood Assurance is] a nonprofit company based out of Chattanooga and we provide a lot of our local and regional hospitals with all their blood supplies, their blood products, things like that,” Brian Cross, a donor recruiter for Blood Assurance, said. “A lot of what we’re doing here comes back into this community, so it’s just a great event and I’m glad [event organizers] let us come out here and work with them.
“These hospitals depend on us to give them a good, quality product and that’s what our goal is.”
He said an hour into the event, Blood Assurance received blood donations from between 15 and 20 people.