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More than 375 lucky drivers pumped free gas into their cars recently as part of an arrangement between First Baptist Church of Eagle Lake and an Eloise, Fla., 7-Eleven, according to a report in The Ledger newspaper.
The church provided $11,510 worth of free gasoline, which was retailing for $2.94 a gallon. When Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies who were directing traffic blocked the store's driveway to cut off the line at 10:30 a.m., the line was as long as it had been two hours earlier, the newspaper reported.
Missy Powell from Wahneta, Fla., was the last person in line for the free gas. She was impressed by the gesture of the church members, who raised the money for the gas. "If more people were like this, the world would be a better place," she told the newspaper.
Powell said she felt kinship with the 65 church volunteers who were pumping gas, washing windshields, passing out Bibles and gently witnessing to the motorists as they waited at the pumps. "I'm a kind-hearted person; I like to give to everyone," she said.
The organizers of the gas giveaway were the Rev. Jeff Buchanan, the church's pastor, and John Womack, corporate field consultant for 7-Eleven. Buchanan and his congregation felt it was a way to further the church's mission of spreading God's love.
"We'd been praying about how we could help the community," he said.
Buchanan had approached other gas stations with the idea and had been turned away until they found a receptive audience with 7-Eleven representatives. Womack thought it was a good idea, confirmed his impressions with his supervisors and then started planning to make sure the event operated smoothly.
The event had a festive air. Some church members were dressed as clowns and passed out colorful balloons.
Womack and other 7-Eleven employees circulated through the parking lot with sample trays of brownies and taquitos, and passed out small cups that could be taken inside the store to get a free Slurpee.
There were no major incidents. However, a few cars and trucks had to be pushed into the parking lot because the drivers had either run out of gas or their radiators had overheated while in line.