Tuesday morning, I had a real sense that I should go and visit Carlisle Petrol Station, and Store that was destroyed by a brutal robbery early on Monday morning. The amount of destruction was unreal.
We just wanted to visit the store and call the owner to tell him that we, as a community, are sad for the loss of business, possibly employment and the sheer devastation that took place.
I told him that we are praying for him, his family and employees, and offered him our church Foodbank, for his staff. Just as I said that he looked at me and said that he was going to phone us that morning, to tell me that he needs the Foodbank to receive and distribute all the food that was displayed in both fridges inside the store!
When we walked into the store, we realised that it was a lot of food to be moved away, fast! I phoned Rosemary, our foodbank manager, Kate, our church secretary, and Akseli our youth intern. When they arrived, right then and there, we put together an action plan.
I phoned every school Principal of our town to ask them if they were happy to receive the food and they were. I called some of the local churches, and Edengrove Presbyterian Church provided their van. We called other agencies like CAP to come and help us to move the food and distribute it properly.
Ballynahinch High School is really close to the petrol station. Their Principal came along with some students to help out, and they surely did! The Principal of BHS became the van driver, teachers, classroom assistants and around fifteen students came to clear the shelves moving everything into the two vans. They were great, we all worked hard, the heavy rain did not stop us.
These students regularly come to the store to get their lunches, and today they came to bless those who were robbed of their income and employment.
What good can come out of the robbery and destruction of a petrol station? Well, we managed for a few hours to turn evil into good and the schools, food banks, and other agencies that are working with struggling families were blessed.
The sense of loss, the shock, and the looks of those who work at Carlisle Petrol Station were of a deep feeling of injustice and anger. Their determination to open up for business as soon as they can and a strong desire to serve the community again became evident to me.
Thank you for letting us bless the community through the temporary loss of your business, we feel your pain, and we are praying for you.