“This event has exceeded our expectations,” said Sharon Foskey, event organizer. “We planned for 300 and had to go get 100 more burgers. It has been amazing.”
God’s Work Rally was organized by Foskey and buoyed by partnerships with community churches and local organizations. The event’s purpose was twofold: raise awareness of Cleveland’s homeless population while also showing support.
Donations were accepted as admission to join the fun at God’s Work Rally. Acceptable donations included: a bag of canned food, a coat, or a winter hat/gloves/scarf combination. Five trucks were placed around the event for organizers to charge admission and collect items. By 2:30 p.m. the truck beds were filling up quickly.
Foskey said the goods would help many people.
Additional donations can be dropped off at Heavenly Treasures Ministry Thriftstore on Broad Street S.W.
“There are always going to be people hurting. I need canned food. I need clothes, especially men’s jeans and men’s shoes. I need those desperately,” Foskey said. “Thermal underwear is also good during the winter months.”
Homeless individuals attending the event continually showed Foskey their gratitude.
“They have just come up and hugged me,” Foskey said. “They said, ‘Sharon, I love you, and thank you.’ I told them I love them too, and they say they already knew that.”
Sonshine the Clown, as played by Andrea Stets, entertained children with balloon animals.
“The balloon light sabers have been a real hit today,” Stets said.
A multicolored wig adorned Stets’ head as she asked each child what they wanted made. Foskey asked Stets to participate in the rally after seeing her at a church function. Stets had glowing reviews for the event.
“It has been really fun. People seem touched by the love of Jesus while enjoying themselves,” Stets said. “Sharing Jesus’ love is the most important thing.”
Lisa Newman-Daniel and Cheryl Ortmertl with All Care Health Services passed out gloves and anti-bacterial hand--sanitizer bottles.
Newman-Daniel said she enjoyed the music and activities, but would like to see more community involvement.
“It would be great to see more of the people who ‘have’ [shelter and material comfort] coming out to support this event,” Newman-Daniel said.
Both ladies understand this is the first rally, and see good things for God’s Rally in the future.
“I would say for the first year, this is quite a turnout,” Ortmertl said.
Added Newman-Daniel, “A lot of the people who knew about it did bring the canned goods and clothes to participate and help out.”
Edna and Aaron Page are proud supporters of community organizations dedicated to make a positive impact in Bradley County. The pair said they would like to see more events like Saturday’s rally in Cleveland.
“We support the Caring Place, the home on Inman, and any other place that looks like it needs something,” Aaron said. “There are a lot of organizations who do a lot in this town.”
Added Edna, “Making more people aware of the homeless issue is key. Sometimes there is not that connection to the problems and events occurring around town.”
Face painting, balloon animals, and inflatables were provided for children to play on. Hamburgers, hot dogs, custard, baked beans, and more were given for free to those attending the event. People waited in a long line by the Salvation Army’s canteen for a plate of food. Foskey said she had a lot of people to thank for the success of the event.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the Methodist churches, the Baptist Association, and Victory Drive Church of God,” Foskey said. “I would just like to say thank you to the entire community of Bradley County. So many people have been instrumental.”