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OTTAWA — Across the state and in Franklin County, faith communities are banding together in support of businesses affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Disaster brings out the worst and the best in people,” said Rod Kennedy, interim senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ottawa. “Right now it’s critical for us to be good neighbors.”
First Baptist’s congregation has begun collectively ordering out at a different restaurant every Tuesday, stylizing the outings as “Rod’s Virtual Road Trips.”
“I was the senior pastor First Baptist, Dayton, Ohio, for 13 years, and we had these regular road trips that were designed to increase the fellowship of our congregation,” Kennedy said. “Once a month, we’d select a locally owned restaurant, and we’d take 40 or 50 people to their place on Tuesday night, which is usually a slow night.
“They came to be known as ‘Rod’s Road Trips.’ I came up with the idea there, and when I got here and we were shut down and I saw how much our restaurants were suffering, we just added the word ‘virtual’ to it.”
The group has ordered takeout from Primetime Grille and Luigi’s so far, and plans to keep up the practice for the duration of the state’s stay-at-home order.
“We feel like Christians are people who should do something to help their neighbors, whether their neighbors are members of the church, Christian or not,” Kennedy said. “They’ve been appreciative. When you are struggling to keep your doors open and someone shows up to order 30 dinners on a Tuesday night, that means something.”
Another community institution, Ottawa Bible Church, has begun intentionally patronizing two businesses per week, calling the initiative “Operation Ottawa.” The group has so far supported Corner Market, Turner Flowers, Luigi’s and Mug Shot Coffee.
In a bid to assist nonprofit food providers, Sikhs Serving America has made an emergent need donation to Meals on Wheels of Eastern Kansas.
“We donated to Meals on Wheels because they are still heroically providing meals to their clients,” said Daljit Singh Jawa, president of Sikhs Serving America. ”We hope that with SSA’s financial help it could provide meals to additional seniors who may need support during the COVID-19 pandemic.”