Food, product giveaway helps more than 500 people Sunday

<p>Hundreds of local residents wait in line for the "We Love Hermiston" food and item giveaway put on by the Hermiston Assembly of God and the Templo Fe, Esperanza Y Amor Iglesia de Dios churches Sunday at the Sage Brush Center.</p>

When pastors Terry Haight of the Hermiston Assembly of God and Hector Ramirez of Templo Fe, Esperanza Y Amor Iglesia de Dios got together two years ago to provide free food for members of the Hermiston community with their “We Love Hermiston” event, their goal was to unite the community.

This year, both churches joined again to offer food, clothing and household products to all who attended. More than 500 individuals attended the event Sunday at the Sage Brush Center.

“I feel like this will make a much bigger impact than having a normal church service today,” Haight said Sunday. “Instead of doing what we are doing on any given Sunday, it is like we are doing our service outside the four walls of the church to reach people in the community.”

With the help of a $2,500 grant from FamilyCare Health Plans, the church had enough money to obtain a semi-truck load of food and other supplies to provide to local community members during the event.

Everything from sacks of potatoes to frozen meats to Oxi Clean detergent to mops were given to community members who lined the parking lot at the shopping center.

Haight said they were worried about whether people would show up because they had to move the event to Sunday instead of Saturday, but they were pleasantly surprised with the attendance. Originally, the event was scheduled to take place Sept. 21, but the organizers were notified at 10 p.m. the night before the driver who was supposed to drive the vehicle of food to Hermiston from the food bank in Nampa, Idaho, could not be located. Haight said they didn’t receive nearly as much food as they were anticipating, but the everything worked out.

“It is all about coming and serving and seeing where the needs are at,” he said. “It reveals that there is a great need for this kind of an event. There are a lot of people out here today.”

Hermiston resident Vicki Appel said she thinks it is wonderful the churches are having the event.

“I think there is a need for this everywhere,” she said.

Hermiston resident Leroy Cappote said the event serves his family well.

“Definitely with the economy and the times, it is rough for everybody,” he said. “Prices are going up and wages are staying the same. I think this is great.”

Sandra England, wife of associate pastor Rick England, said about 100 volunteers handed out supplies and directed people where to go at the event. Haight said the last of the food had been given by 1 p.m.

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