August 09, 2017IMLAY CITY — The lines were unusually long at the Imlay City Marathon station Tuesday morning, Aug. 8, as hundreds of motorists took advantage of the "Free Gas Giveaway" sponsored by the Gateway Assembly church.
The gasoline giveaway took place in conjunction with Gateway Assembly's "This Heart Loves Community Festival" on Friday, Aug. 11 from 6-10 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 12 from 9 a.m-3 p.m.
Gateway's Promotions Director Shelly Simpson said this marks the second year the church has sponsored the "This Heart Loves" gas giveaway.
She said last year's program was so well-received that church members were eager to do it again.
"This is our way of giving back and showing love for our community," said Simpson. "In addition, we are able to acknowledge and thank our veterans for their service by giving them free fill-ups."
Simpson noted that non-veterans received $1 off per gallon of gas, up to 15 gallons.
One veteran who took advantage of the gas giveaway was Capac resident Jerry Robberstad, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1956-1962.
"Man, this is fabulous," said Robberstad. "It feels great to know there are people who care enough to honor our service in this way."
That spirit of appreciation was shared by Gateway's younger members, many of whom busily waved in customers in the front of the station at Van Dyke and M-21.
"We just want to do good things and to encourage people to come to the Lord," said 13-year-old Nathan Wampler.
Marathon owner Mike Botrus said he was approached last year by Gateway representatives who suggested the idea of a gas giveaway.
"We thought it was a good idea and got involved," said Botrus. "We got a lot of positive feedback last year.
"It's been a good way for us to give back to our customers and to the community," he said. "At the same time we can support the veterans."
Gateway Youth Pastor Tyler Kreiner noted that 10,000 gallons of gasoline were ordered for Tuesday's giveaway, twice the number of gallons as last year.
Kreiner said the gas giveaway and this weekend's "This Heart Loves" community festival reflect the goodness that exists in all people.
"There is so much discord in the world today," said Kreiner. "It's nice to be able to bring the community together, and to let people know that Jesus loves all of us."
For those who missed the gas giveaway, there will be plenty of fun and goodwill to be shared at the 2017 This Heart Loves Community Festival.
The event kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 11, at the Gateway Assembly located at 2796 South Van Dyke.
Opening night activities feature a family movie, inflatables for the kids, food and much more.
The fun continues on Saturday, Aug. 12, with an array of free events and services including free backpacks filled with school supplies for children who are present, basic health checks, sports physicals by a certified physician, car washes, haircuts, oil changes (by appointment) and a clothing giveaway.
Children in attendance on Saturday are invited to visit the Kidz Zone where they can play on the inflatables, have their faces painted, ride a pony, enjoy the petting zoo or partake in the free food.
Drawings will be held for a bicycle and go-kart.
For questions or more information about Gateway Assembly or the This Heart Loves Community Festival, call the church office at 810-724-8110.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.