BEAN STATION – A small group of anonymous helpers has been feeding people in the Bean Station and Rutledge communities by serving meals and faith to those in need.
When COVID-19 began affecting America and schools closed, a small group of community members began asking how they could help keep children fed. The group asked questions about how the children could get to the food if they were to serve it.
A church one of the members attended provided food through an event called Sandwich Saturday, where church members would drive around and hand out lunches to show God’s love. That member mentioned Sandwich Saturdays to another group member who said he would buy the food if she would get the meals together. She said she sent a food list with him, but due to the pandemic, he could not find bread. He traveled through several East Tennessee counties before telling her the group was going to have to pray about it.
At his last stop, he found more bread than he thought possible.
“He said God has provided abundantly,” the female group member said, “and then everything else started flowing.”
People from across the county began to donate to the program. From sandwich supplies, to fresh fruit and cooked meals, the food began to appear. Within two days the group had $700 to purchase more supplies. Until the program ended, the group’s funds never dropped lower than $700, no matter what was spent.
The female group member said community members and businesses brought whatever the group needed to serve to them as soon as supplies were running low. She said God continued to provide for the program, from snack cakes showing up to bushels of apples being donated.
“Once people heard, they wanted to help,” she said.
Those served would receive sandwiches, chips, fresh fruit and granola bars Tuesdays and Thursdays, but for Saturdays and Sundays, they would receive cooked meals, like spaghetti, pizza or hamburgers.
The group served approximately 80 people per day from Bean Station to Rutledge. She said the more they went to serve, the more people came. She said the group did not turn anyone away. From children to the elderly and anyone in-between, all were served.
“God told us to feed everybody. He didn’t say ‘go out here and just feed the little children,’” she said.
Relationships were built between those being served and those who were serving during the program, she said. The program founders began to have Bible schools at Bean Station City Park. During the Bible schools one of the children being served accepted Jesus as their savior. She said she believed when churches reopened for Sunday school, the children who were served will come.
“It’s been a blessing for all of us, I mean every one of us that’s been doing it. It’s been a big blessing to be able to do it, to show people God loves everybody, not just one certain person, not just the children. He loves everybody, and He wants to help everybody,” she said.
She said though the churches were closed, the church was still working in the community.
“Satan may have closed the church doors, but God is the church, and we are the church. And that’s outside of that building...” she said. “You can’t keep us from being the church.”
The member said the Grainger Baptist Association helped the group serve. She said it provided food while the group provided volunteer work. She said the association helped the group tremendously.
She shared a story from the program about a moment which she said gave her chills during one delivery. The group had one house remaining on its list and just enough bags for the members of the home, but the children had a friend visiting. She said they attempted to find a way the kids could share the meals. However, when the group returned to the vehicle, a bag was sitting in the car. She said there were four members present at the time and each one said the bag had not been there when they delivered.
She said, “You know God has this power that He knew that little girl was going to be there. He knew that bag was there, wherever. It wasn’t in their plain sight when they took the four bags in to begin with, but number five was waiting when they got back to the car.”
She said she believed the program showed a lot of people they were too busy. She said people saw a need and saw that the group just drove by to deliver. She said there is a way to help. She said God is at work, and people don’t need to give up.
She said, “We all have a purpose, and our purpose is to show God’s love and joy.”
The member said the group chose to remain anonymous because it wants God to get the glory. She expressed her thanks to God and all the businesses and individuals who participated.
The program ended Sunday, July 26. The group plans to continue serving the community.