In the days since a fire destroyed a local church, area folks have been busy figuring out ways to be of assistance.
An electrical fire in a breaker box burned down Faith Baptist Church in the Toast community on the evening of Aug. 27, and the show of community support started right away, while the fire was still blazing.
As the firefighters were working the blaze, emergency medical personnel set up a rehab area where the volunteers could go to rest and rehydrate. Charity Edwards, daughter of the church’s pastor, said that not only were the American Red Cross and Mount Airy Rescue Squad there, but some local businesses showed up, too. Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Brady’s Coffee and Circle K arrived to offer drinks and food at the rehab area.
Preacher Randy Edwards said the next day that the congregation had been raising supplies to help Franklin Elementary School’s backpack program that sends food home with needy families on weekends. After people heard that the supplies were destroyed, businesses such as Food Lion and Walmart showed up with some small deliveries to help replace what was lost.
Rondale Ratcliff is a member of the Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department, but he also works with Food Lion as an execution and implementation specialist. When he saw a news report that included an image of a shopping cart with scorched contents, his heart went out to the preacher and his flock.
“At Food Lion, we are the towns and cities we serve, and we take pride in supporting our children in need,” said Ratcliff. “When sharing the news to my Food Lion Community Relations, they were more than happy to make a quick donation to provide food for the church.”
“The church estimated a loss of $400 to $500 in food product. The Food Lion team wanted to replace the total food loss,” said Kathy Whicker, Food Lion community leader.
Food Lion Feeds has been donating food items to backpack programs for years, noted Ratcliff. Last year, it was the Mount Airy City Schools that benefited. Before that, Cedar Ridge Elementary received a big donation.
That program alone gave about $800 worth of supplies, then local store officials and other sources starting pitching in some more, and the total donation delivered Friday afternoon was about $1,450, said Ratcliff.
The food items that were donated are easy to fix, noted Whitaker, such as: Capri Sun Fruit Drinks, Kellogg’s cereal bowls, Chef Boyardee Ravioli and Spaghetti & Meatballs, and Food Lion store brands of Mac & Cheese, Beans & Weiners, Fruit Bars, Apple Sauce, Cheese and Peanut Butter Crackers, Variety Pastry, Puddings, Chicken Noodle Soup and Tomato Soup.
The delivery was made to the church fellowship hall which was not damaged during the fire. There, the contents can be separated into individual care packages that can go home with the Franklin kids.
Two different organizers reached out to The Mount Airy News over the past week saying they are planning benefit music concerts for October.
Jonathan Bledsoe said Temple Baptist Church, on U.S. 601 just south of Mount Airy, will play host to a gospel concert on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.
He said his own group will participate, Jonathan Bledsoe Ministries, as well as the Mylon Hayes Family, and the Bledsoes.
Bledsoe said he had considered advertising a $10 cost to get in, but instead decided against that. There is no admission cost, but he hopes people will feel generous in making a love offering to go to Faith Baptist Church.
Bledsoe spoke to Preacher Edwards on the phone this past week and has some concern that the fire insurance might not be enough to replace the church structure as it was before.
He put a notice up on his group’s Facebook page and by Friday it had been shared more than 160 times. He said that wasn’t all. Through other people’s pages and other social media, he said the notice had been shared more like 1,000.
The venue at Temple Baptist will hold about 1,250 to 1,300 people, so if all these people showing an interest can come out, the event will fill the church.
Details are still being worked out, so Bledsoe said anyone wanting more information can contact him at 336-374-8651.
Another concert is in the early planning stages.
Jonathan Bailey, who has his own marketing and events company, saw the newspaper coverage and felt compelled to do something.
A couple of years ago West Virginia was hit hard by historically bad flooding. Bailey was among those in the county who pitched in to gather supplies and ship them off.
“You can’t take the pain away from these people, but you can definitely give back the items they’ve lost,” he said in 2016.
This time around, he is talking to local music groups about volunteering their time for an event. He said that he has spoken to an area business about putting on a chicken stew dinner at the same time.
Bailey said he would announce additional details as they become more concrete,
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.