The smell of pancakes and the sound of laughter filled the hall as local families followed a trailing line for their opportunity to receive goods for their homes. For the ninth consecutive year, the First Baptist Church in Rolla has successfully orchestrated their 'Great Give-away,' held on Saturday, September 16 at the church.

The smell of pancakes and the sound of laughter filled the hall as local families followed a trailing line for their opportunity to receive goods for their homes. For the ninth consecutive year, the First Baptist Church in Rolla has successfully orchestrated their ‘Great Give-away,’ held on Saturday, September 16 at the church. This free give-away, showcasing a myriad of items from toys and clothes, to furniture and appliances is an outreach program of the church, specifically by a group called ‘Faith in Action’.

“I think (the event) does a lot,” said Matt Ausmus, a member of the group.” “There was World Vision and a couple other entities that started what they called ‘Put your faith in action’, and that's why our team is called ‘Faith in Action’. Basically they wanted you to be the church. They didn’t want you just going to church, they want you to get out in your community and minister there.”

The day before the event, a group of the church members worked tirelessly on preparing the tables and event space so community members could more easily navigate the plethora of free goods they could take home. Bonita Prock, a member of the Faith and Action committee said with a laugh “We have been very successful at it, and by successful, I mean every year we think will be the last year anyone is gonna have anything to bring!”

“I didn’t think we would make nine years,” Ausmus said “I’m not a yard-sale person, so when this concept came up, I was not really thrilled! The rest of the team wanted to, so we did it and it turned out really well and it's been growing since then.”

The church community not only organized the event by gathering and preparing donated items, but also prepared a breakfast meal for those community members attending the ‘Great Give-away.’
“The first couple of years (community members) weren't really sure, and they’d maybe get a couple pancakes and be out the door.” said Ausmus. “Over the last two or three years they’ll sit and visit and (church members) can listen and find out their story and what’s going on in their lives.”

The event impacts families by assisting them in areas that may be difficult to provide, such as household appliances and even baby clothing and toys. Joyce Windmiller, the children’s ministry director for the church, highlights a specific need they can fill to the children in the area.

“We have an outreach to children in our community,” said Windmiller, “This is one way we can give them resources, coats, books, clothing items and they can share it with their families and friends and in their neighborhood.”

The church holds many other events in the community outside of the ‘Great Give-away’. One of the largest compared to this event is their coat giveaway, which runs from October to December every Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. The annual ‘Great Give-away’ appeared to be a much anticipated event in the community, due to the size of the early turnout on Saturday morning.

“We try to fill a need in our community,” said Windmiller. “Part of that is the Great Give-away, part of that is the coat give-away. It builds connections with our church family, but it also builds connections with the people in our community. They see our faces and it's easier for them to come in and say ‘I have a need.’”