VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - We have seen images of bare shelves at grocery stores across Hampton Roads for something we all need but can't find - toilet paper - all due to panic buying since the coronavirus outbreak.
Essential Church in Virginia Beach had some rolls their members hadn't been using since churches have been shut down due to COVID-19, and the church's pastor, Steve Swisher, got an idea a few days back when he got a phone call.
"Our supplier called and said, 'Hey we're about to bring your delivery for the week. Do you still want it since you're not meeting?'" Swisher told us.
Swisher's answer was "yes," and the church decided to do a drive-thru toilet paper giveaway. They passed out free rolls in bags and used a pole to hand the highly sought-after items into open car windows all to make sure they were following proper social distancing rules.
"You know, every time you're given a restriction, you can either look at it as a limiting factor or an opportunity to be creative, and so we basically look at all these things to see how is it we can continue to do church during this time; how can we meet virtually and how can we continue to help reach out to the community - even if it's at the end of a stick."
The pastor does want to point out, "All the toilet paper we're giving out is all industrial supply toilet paper, individually wrapped. It's not stuff out of the stores. We've had people ask, 'Are you the ones hoarding it?' No, we're the ones giving it away."
This is the second time they did this. The first time, it was four rolls per vehicle; the second time, it was eight rolls per car.
Swisher does admit that this type of ministry is a first for him.
"I never would have imagined years ago when I became a pastor that one day I'd be handing people toilet paper at the end of a stick," he said. "However, I became a pastor because I wanted to be able to meet needs and help people, and if this is what it means, here you go. God bless you."
To News 3, this clearly seems like this is taking action when you need to take action.
For those reasons, we presented Essential Church with a People Taking Action award, along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.
The pastor was very grateful, saying they would find someone who could benefit from the gift card.
And if you're wondering, yes, the toilet paper drive-thru will be back at it again this Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at their location at 4020 Ware Neck Drive in Virginia Beach.
To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.