By Melanie Ruberti
Local church to fill tractor trailer with donations for fire victims
LaGRANGE – The landscape surrounding the ThreeLife Church at 3472 Hogansville Road looks a bit cramped these days since Lead Pastor Josh Rhye parked a 53-foot tractor trailer on the front lawn.
But the boxed truck has a special mission: to send local donations to victims of the wildfires in Pidgeon Forge, Tenn.
The outreach effort is simply named Operation Tennessee.
“You see the need and you just want to meet it,” explained Josh. “… You pray for them but then you ask God, ‘How can I serve in this area?’ Then you get a phone call saying. ‘A tractor trailer is heading your way.’ That’s the cool thing about LaGrange, when you put a challenge in front of them, they always rise up to meet or exceed it.”
Operation Tennessee started at The Journey Church in Fernandino Beach, Fla. Darryl Bellar is the lead pastor of the church and also a mentor to Josh. One of his congregation members, Dale Prax, owns the trucking company Worldwide LLC Logistics.
Prax said he felt compelled to provide 20 big rigs to churches across Florida and Georgia so people could donate supplies to aid wildfire victims, volunteers and first responders.
Worldwide LLC Logistics is taking care of all the costs and will also deliver the items to Tennessee next week.
“The city of Pidgeon Forge has a place set up for everything to be delivered,” said Bellar via phone. “That’s where people can go and get clothes, supplies and toiletries … there is a huge warehouse where volunteers and victims are staying and helping them.”
All congregation members and the community have to do is fill the truck.
“Water, shoes, clothes, new socks, underwear, diapers, coats … just the basic supplies that are the most needed,” said Amanda. “If we can touch just one person’s life – or 1,000 lives – it doesn’t matter. That one person may be the most important reason why we’re there … No donation is too small.”
“Whatever people bring will go straight to the victims,” Josh added. “They lost it all … shoes, socks … those items will go to cover someone’s feet … It really takes a village. People with the right reasons get the right results.”
The church hopes to fill up the entire trailer by next Wednesday.
“This is the perfect time of year,” Amanda said. “The holidays kick off a spirit of service and loving on the community.”
ThreeLife Church will also send a team of volunteers to Tennessee in two weeks. The group will bring more water, supplies and gift cards for wildfire victims to buy groceries, said Josh.
Donations for Operation Tennessee can be dropped off at the church at 3472 Hogansville Road on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Anyone wanting more information can contact ThreeLife Church at email@example.com.
Here is a list of needed supplies:
- New socks, underwear
- Baby wipes
- Toilet paper
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with the LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.