LOVE GIVES WHEELS
4:30-6:30 p.m. Mobile video game trailer
5:30-7 p.m. Chick-fil-A Santa Cow
10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Photos with Star Wars and superhero characters
2-5 p.m. Balloon artist
TBA. Photos with Santa Claus
Dynamic Church is getting high on its fundraising effort for The Salvation Army.
Literally, it is.
The East Brainerd church - specifically, founder and lead pastor Wesley Odum - is going to spend 36 hours 50 feet up in the air in an effort to raise funds to purchase bicycles for children who have requested them through The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.
The pastor will remain atop a scissor lift, and will be joined by several area celebrities from time to time, in front of the Gunbarrel Road Walmart from 5 a.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Saturday.
"It's an attention grabber," Odum says. "People will see it and say, 'What's this person doing on a lift?'"
Below him, in front of the discount chain, volunteers will accept money for the bicycle fund, which is called Love Gives Wheels.
The goal is to raise enough money to purchase 500 bicycles. The monetary amount, at $50 per bike, is $25,000.
However, Odum says, a gift of any size is appreciated.
Odum and Dynamic Church did the same thing in 2012 on a limited basis, seeking enough donations to "help close the gap" on The Salvation Army's need. They hoped to raise enough to pay for 100 bikes, he says, but wound up with enough for 150.
Those interested in helping can walk into Walmart and purchase a bike, make an on-site donation to purchase the bike or give online at LoveGivesWheels.com.
All funds will be used to purchase bikes, the pastor says. None will be used for overhead.
"We are thrilled about Love Gives Wheels this weekend," says Kimberly George, marketing and development director at The Salvation Army. "We are excited because the need is up with Angel Tree, so we know we will need more bikes. Five hundred bicycles is a lofty goal, but we know that Chattanoogans and folks in Cleveland are generous and that they will step up to the challenge."
Odum says the lift platform where he'll spend time is about 8 feet wide by 4 or 5 feet long.
"It's not a lot [of room]," he says. "There's not much space to operate."
However, Odum says being above Walmart provides an amazing view of the area.
"You get to see the sun rise and the sun go down," he says.
The bad news is there's a 90 percent chance of rain.
Nevertheless, "we'll push forward," he says. "You'll find us there Friday."
And to answer the question the pastor is most often asked, yes, he will take restroom breaks inside Walmart.
During the time Odum is in the air, church volunteers will offer family activities in front of the center.
Among the offerings will be a mobile video-game trailer, a balloon artist and photos with Star Wars characters, superheroes and Santa Claus. The Chick-fil-A Santa cow will be on hand.
"Our strategy is to identify partners, organizations that are doing a great job," to assist, says Odum. "It's not to re-create the wheel. And The Salvation Army does a great job [to] meet the needs of everyday people."
Even better than raising money for the bicycles, he says, is assisting in the distribution.
"We're entering into a season where, as Christians, as believers in a message of hope, we want to provide something of hope to people who find themselves in what they believe is a hopeless situation."
In assisting with the distribution, he says, "we get to see their situation, to meet them face to face, to pray over them. That has the most meaning to us."
Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.