More than 200 volunteers passed out turkey dinners and warm clothing to almost 800 people in need Saturday as the Bridge Ministry held its annual Thanksgiving outreach under the Calhoun Expressway.
The Ministry is a partnership between the New Hope Worship Center, First Baptist Church of Augusta, Augusta Rescue Mission and other area churches.
Outreach pastor Roger Gardner said the number of attendees was up from about 650 last year.
“Things are so much tighter and tougher,” he said. “A guy that was working two months ago has taken to the shelters.”
Golden Harvest Food Bank provided some of the food and the churches provided the rest. Winter clothing was donated.
Trisha Long came with her husband and three children.
“It is so nice to get a meal and be able to be around all these good people,” she said. Long said she and her husband have been in and out of shelters for six months.
Indal Sookraj, of Augusta, said he came out to hear Gardner’s words. He is living in a shelter now but thinks that he might be getting some work soon.
“I can fix anything but a broken heart,” he said.
Gardner said The New Hope Worship Center started the Bridge Ministry in January 2007 with a flatbed truck, some used chafing dishes and about 50 chairs. They have been holding outdoor sermons and passing out food under the bridge every Saturday since.
“We cooked and they showed up,” said Gardner. “The lines get longer and longer.”
The Life Ministry church’s band provided music and Gardner gave a sermon. Volunteers also held a “Children’s Church.”
Dianne Brown, who just moved to Augusta from Citrus County, Fla., was volunteering for the children’s program. She went to First Baptist Church last Sunday and heard about the Bridge Ministry.
“I love it,” she said. “I think it’s great. There wasn’t anything like this in Florida.”
Ed Thuring, of Augusta, was volunteering with Augusta Rescue Mission.
“Most homeless people are loners,” he said. “So this is a great way for them to get together.”