GARY — In wartime, the enemy can be obvious and visible. But with COVID-19, “it’s an invisible war we’re battling," the Rev. W. Maurice White Jr. said Wednesday. "We don’t know who we’re fighting.”
To help those frontline fighters, White, pastor of Beyond 4 Walls Christian Center, announced the Miller church, along with several local small businesses, are donating food, beverages and paper supplies to hospital first responders and other staff.
Standing outside the entrance to Methodist Hospitals’ Northlake Campus, Beyond 4 Walls Christian Center members unveiled their partnership with Beggar’s Pizza, Lil Coffee Cabin and Easy Tissues to provide free supplies to local medical centers.
White called the health care workers heroes and role models.
Matt Doyle, president and CEO of Methodist Hospitals, thanked the donors.
“Our team of first responders absolutely appreciates all the donations being provided to us,” Doyle said.
He said community support keeps first responders going throughout the day.
"They face challenges, and those challenges are real," he said. "They continue to serve, to meet the needs of the community.”
Gary City Councilmen Ron Brewer, D-at large, and William Godwin, D-1st, added their thanks to the donors and hospital staff.
“'Thank you' are just (words), and we need to put (words) into action,” Brewer said.
Beyond 4 Walls already had begun a weekly frozen meal distribution in July from its parking lot. That program has been extended to 2022, with more than 750 meals distributed on Thursdays.
Beggar’s Pizza will donate pizzas, Lil Coffee Cabin will provide vouchers for free coffee or lemonade, and Easy Tissues will donate six cases each of residential toilet tissue, paper towels and commercial toilet tissue.
The program began this week at Methodist’s Northlake site. Future sites include St. Mary Medical Center of Hobart in September; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago in October; Methodist’s Southlake Campus in Merrillville in November; and Franciscan Health Hammond in December. Also donating in coming months is Chicagoland Popcorn of Hobart and St. John.
Joseph and Jasmine Mims are owners of Lil Coffee Cabin, which opened in Highland in 2019 and in East Chicago in 2020.
“It’s amazing to be here and giving something back to the community where I grew up,” Joseph Mims said, praising first responders for serving “with a sense of excellence.”
Jasmine Mims added, “I’m just thrilled we are able to cooperate. This is a great thing, and we love to give back.”
As owner of Gary-based Easy Tissues, Kwame Akoto Bamfo is the lone African American manufacturer and distributor of paper supplies in the U.S.
“When I heard what the pastor was doing, I was really touched, excited, and I decided to get involved,” Bamfo said.
A former health care worker, Quentin Grant now partners with Jonathan Harris at Beggar’s Pizza.
“You recognize fear when the pandemic hit,” Grant said. “You (help) because you have a passion to the people you serve. We wanted to impact the community.”