General Wymbs stands in front of his damaged house in Ringgold, Ga. after the April 27 tornado. Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press
RINGGOLD, Ga. -- An empty lot in Ringgold was filled Saturday with 31 pallets stacked five feet high of shampoos, candy, Clif bars, blankets and seemingly random household goods.
Origin Church, a local congregation, gathered the $110,000 worth of goods the past few months to give to those who were still recovering from the April 27 tornadoes that devastated Ringgold and other tri-state communities. Saturday was one week shy of six months after the deadly twister assault.
The event was supposed to start at 11 a.m., but people began lining up an hour before that. By the scheduled start time, nearly half of the $110,000 worth of goods already was gone, including all the toilet paper, and in a few minutes, all 100 pairs of shoes.
Renovations on Martha and Bruce Archie's house were finished about a week ago. They'd spent months living with their two grandchildren and their youngest son in one room.
The Archies picked up wool blankets, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cough drops, soaps and shampoos from pallets on the lot owned by Rick Worley and Son Automotive Collision.
"They was thinking there would be toys," Martha Archie said about her hopeful grandchildren. "I'm so glad there are no toys." She said she didn't need the extra mess.
Origin Church was founded in 2009 and now meets at the Hamilton Place YMCA. Most of its core members live in Ringgold, so they've wanted to help out in the community however they can.
The church received three semitrailer loads of goods, including one truck full of furniture, from a Virginia-based ministry called Gleaning for the World. The ministry supplies goods so that other Christian ministries can distribute them to those in need.
"We weren't hit, but we live here," youth leader T.J. Gephart said. "We wanted to give back to our neighbors. This isn't something you expect from a small church, but we've been blessed."
Rodney Adams, whose home also escaped damage in the April 27 tornadoes, said he stopped by on his way to work to gather supplies so he could help a friend who has mental problems.
Pastor Shane Craven said he planted his church not because Chattanooga needed a new church, but because he thought it could serve the community.
"There's no way of knowing if all these people need help," he said about the people collecting the free goods, "but I guess God just wants us to serve."
Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...