Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Levi Washburn
Lynchburg, VA - The Fourth of July triggers images of cookouts, family BBQs, and fireworks. But for so many, this fourth, was no cause for celebration.
One Lynchburg Church, though, tried to change that, inviting anyone and everyone to their cookout.
West Lynchburg Baptist Church is right around the corner from one of the city's hardest hit areas, where hundreds of homes are still without power. And what would have been just another sweltering, powerless day, became a holiday to enjoy and remember.
"We've gone through about 300 burgers so far, and I don't know how many hot dogs," said Pastor Robert Putt. "We just keep serving till we run out of food. On Monday, without power, we served some folks lunch and we said, we need to do this again," he said.
So, when West Lynchburg Baptist got their power back on Tuesday afternoon, they decided a Fourth of July celebration was in order.
"This morning, we started working on it. So it was not a lot of advanced planning, but our folks have come together and worked as a team to get this done, and to get the word out to the community, hey we're to help," said Putt.
"We went shopping this morning at nine o'clock and have been cooking all day," said church volunteer, Patsy Leftwich.
More than $800 of the church's money bought food for more than 600 people. And by word of mouth, the neighborhood trickled in, for a break from the heat and bite to eat.
"Oh the food is excellent. It's good, it's really good," said one man.
"We know how many people are hurting and we have power and we're able to do this kind of stuff, so that's what we're doing today," said church volunteer, Vance Matthews.
A nice surprise for many, who have had next to nothing to celebrate over these past few days, "When you've got something like this going on, it makes it even better than a normal fourth, because it's like people getting help. You've got people that are in a bad situation, and you've got people from this church that are willing to help people, which makes it almost better to me," said Kevin Lewis, who has been out of power for five days.
"We still haven't had power on Lakeside Drive where we live at. So this is a good way for the family to be together, and all enjoy a good meal, in a happy environment," said Bruce Hardy.
The church wound up running out of food after they fed just about 600 people. They invited all those who ate to stick around and watch the city fireworks on their front lawn; a nice change from what the fourth may have looked like for many.