Augusta’s Under the Bridge Ministry is looking for as many as 300 volunteers to set up tables, preach the Gospel and hand out 1,200 hot meals and winter coats during its annual Thanksgiving feast Saturday.
The Rev. Roger Gardner, leader of the New Hope Worship Center’s Bridge Ministry, said he expects 1,200 homeless or impoverished people to attend the one-hour meal, which will begin at 1 p.m. on 15th Street beneath the John C. Calhoun Expressway overpass.
Gardner said he will need at least 270 volunteers for the feast – 80 to staff the children’s church, 60 to do setup and take-down operations, 55 to hand out food, 50 to distribute coats and 20 to be ushers – but he is shooting for 300 helpers.
“I’d rather have too many volunteers, than not enough,” Gardner said. “It’s going to be a big event. There’s a place for everybody to do something. Not everything is going to be done all at once.”
The Under the Bridge began in 2007. Today, volunteers set up 250 chairs, food serving tables, a music system for worship service and distribute a full hot meal, clothing, hygiene products and bags of food to those in need.
Each month, more than 1,000 hot meals are served, 600 hygiene bags given away, and nearly 1,000 items of clothing handed out.
Gardner said he has children’s jackets and 1,300 adult coats to distribute this weekend. Volunteers, however, have been hard to come by, as is the case most Saturdays, Gardner said.
The minister said the coats and food are only a byproduct of the event.
“We are fishers of men,” he said. “The homeless and impoverished will be coming for one thing, but they’ll leave with something else, hopefully its Christ.”