HOOVER, Ala. (BP)–Volunteers from Shades Crest Baptist Church in this suburb of Birmingham, raced to cars idling at the intersection of Valley Avenue and Shades Crest Road to deliver breakfast to commuters during morning rush hour. With orange juice and honey buns in hand, church members distributed the free fast-food breakfast during festivities associated with “We Love Hoover Week,” held July 14-20.
“We gave out 500 breakfasts from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.,” said Mark Johnson, minister of senior adults and mission partnerships. “We ran out at 8 a.m. We couldn’t have planned it any better.”
Volunteer Allyson George said some commuters would turn the breakfast down, while others would try to pay for it. “People aren’t sure how to take free things,” she said.
Fred Lakeman, who teaches the young adult Sunday school class at Shades Crest, said, “It’s amazing sometimes how reluctant people are to take anything for free or random acts of kindness. It’s sad really, [you] can’t do anything nice without somebody being suspicious.”
Offering free acts of kindness was part of the reason for We Love Hoover Week, according to Pastor Dennis Foust.
“We wanted to practice intentional acts of kindness not motivated by ‘Come to our church,'” he said. “It’s the essence of the love of God given with nothing else asked in return.”
Foust noted that people called the church questioning the free breakfasts. “It’s sad,” he said. “Why is a church practicing kindness an anomaly?”
But the volunteers at the intersection were gradually able to overcome some commuters’ suspicions. “People say, ‘No,’ then you hold it out to them and they take it,” Johnson said.
Foust said the same thing happened on the church grounds where breakfasts were also distributed throughout the week. “Some folks would drive right past. [But by the end of the week] we were seeing folks waving, smiling and pulling right in,” Johnson said.
Although the project’s emphasis was not focused on the church, the breakfasts included a flyer with a message from Foust explaining the breakfast giveaway and directions to the church.
During the week, the church also washed windshields at three Hoover grocery stores, handed out golf towels at five area golf courses, treated city officials and firemen to lunch and handed out water and sports drinks at local walking courses.
We Love Hoover Week also emphasized to the church members that they are always a witness to someone wherever they are.
“We’re always being a witness, the question is, ‘What kind of a witness are you being?'” Foust asked.