Running a charitable endeavor or ministry usually isn’t cheap, let alone an easy undertaking.
First Baptist Church’s White Flag Ministry, which provides the homeless and others with motel lodging on nights when the forecast predicts that the temperature will drop below 29 degrees, is a good example of such a program.
Last week, the ministry averaged helping about 125 people and renting about 65 motel rooms each night.
“That totaled over $23,000 over eight nights. I don’t say that for shock value. I say it because we were able to do that. Our community has blessed this ministry so well that when we were needed the most, we were there for the people, who needed it,” said First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Alex Lockridge.
“We depleted a lot of our funds to get through that bitterness of last week, but this community always responds to the task.”
On Monday afternoon, the White Flag Ministry got a nice financial shot in the arm thanks to an e-commerce effort by local artist and businessman Bryan Hinkle with Eight OH Seven Art Studio that resulted in a $2,520 donation.
Hinkle designed artwork around a scriptural reference regarding assisting those in need, Entertaining Angels Unaware, and then converted his artwork into a silkscreen design that was made available for one week only to online shoppers.
“We were approached by Sandi Curd at the church with the idea. She inspired me to create what was on the shirt. We decided that it would be a great fundraiser,” Hinkle said.
The result was the selling of over 140 garments online that were shipped as far as Alaska.
Hinkle said that after expenses, all the proceeds from the sales went to the White Flag Ministry.
Hinkle admits that he was surprised by the response to the project and the plans are to do a similar project in September or October.
“People like Bryan with Eight OH Seven Art Studio have a heart for people. They have a heart for this community. When we need funds or meals or whatever we ask for, the community responds,” Lockridge noted.
This season the White Flag Ministry started around mid-November, and has been open about 40 nights.
Lockridge added that COVID-19 has complicated things because the ministry can’t ask people to double up in a room causing it to rent more rooms than usual, which costs more.
“I would also say that the pandemic in general has hurt people financially. We have seen a lot of people, who have homes, but can’t afford their gas, or especially this last week lost power and didn’t have a way to pay for themselves. With everyone hurting financially, we have had more people than we usually do,” Lockridge said.
Lockridge said that he is no longer surprised by how much the community steps up to support this program.
“I am usually surprised at all the different types of people, organizations and businesses and in all the different ways that they support. There are so many different people that support it. I learn something new about our community or its members every week,” Lockridge added.
“Just thank you to the Tri-County community. Thank you to all the people, who help get the message out and make this ministry possible.”
Anyone interested in supporting this ministry can call Lockridge at (606) 528-4738 or donate online at Facebook by searching for White Flag Ministry.