Durham drivers line up for free gas, good cheer

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 03:08 PM

Kila Stroud sat in her SUV at the BP gas station on Alston Avenue as the cold wet snow fell down Saturday morning. A tear ran down her cheek.

Things have been tough, she said. The mother of three had been unemployed and recently started a new job in Carrboro.

Members of the We Church, which is about three blocks away, had just pumped $10 worth of free gas into her gas tank, and Stroud was grateful.

“It means a lot,” she said. “I’m driving all the way to Carrboro, and it takes a lot of gas. It’s truly a blessing.”

Stroud heard about the gas giveaway on the morning news. The We Church, which moved into its new location at 1107 Holloway St. in December, raised $1,000 to buy 100 people $10 worth of gas each.

The gas giveaway was scheduled to start at 11 a.m., but cars started lining up before 10 a.m. Cars and trucks squeezed into the lot, and it appeared a bit chaotic. Out on the street, a car bumped into the back of a van that was waiting to turn into the station.

But a couple of Durham Police officers showed up and, along with the church members, quickly organized everyone to get cars in and out of the station as quickly and safely as possible.

As the cars waited, members of the church used the opportunity to speak to the people in the cars to tell them about the church and invite them to a free breakfast Sunday morning.

Church member Clarice Gerald stood in the cold, greeting drivers with a cheery hello and giving them a card about the church. Another member passed out cupcakes.

Timothy Cole drove in for some free gas. He works at the Harris Teeter store near Jordan High School, and he said he appreciated getting some gas to help him get to work and back.

“This helps the community out,” he said. “I like this. It helps somebody else out. A lot of people can’t afford gas any more.”

The church pastor, James Lemuel Spence, said the church wanted to show the community some love.

“Durham always reports bad news, and we wanted to show there are good people in Durham,” he said. “We’re going through tough times. We thought we would help them go a little further.”

And that’s the reason Stroud started to cry. Somebody cared, she said.

“There’s so many people in need and so many people are about caring for themselves, so the fact that you have people who care enough to take time to care about the community” is good, she said.