The community at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, has been giving back to those in need throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, community members focused on veterans, current military members and their families for Memorial Day.
They raised enough money to hand out 600 food gift cards, worth $50 each, during a drive-through giveaway adhering to social distancing rules.
It took about an 30 minutes to hand out the cards.
“We are 6 feet apart. We even have grabber sticks about 6 feet long and handle cards that way. Everybody has on masks, everybody has on gloves,” said co-pastor Jo Ann Browning.
Her husband, Grainger Browning, who is the senior pastor at the church, said it was important to the church community that they honor those who serve — even if they couldn’t do it under one roof.
Grainger said Memorial Day is special to him because his grandfather served in World War I and he remembers marching alongside him in parades through the years.
“It’s always been kind of a special day for me,” Grainger said.
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The church usually hosts an annual Memorial Day program every year to honor those who serve or have lost their lives serving.
“I wanted to make sure that even though we could not be inside of the church sanctuary that we still did something to honor veterans in a special way just to let them know they’re appreciated,” said pastor Grainger.
At Easter, Ebenezer distributed $100,000 in gift cards to community members along with $50,000 in gift cards to women on Mother’s Day.
They hope to do a similar program for Father’s Day.
On Thursdays since the coronavirus pandemic, the church has also distributed 1,000 prepackaged meals weekly through a partnership with the World Central Kitchen and Jose Andres and the Prince George’s County government.
They plan to continue the effort through June.
“We really don’t have a clue what it is that they’re going through, but our hearts and our spirits are very clear that during this coronavirus pandemic time that we want to help, we want to assist,” Jo Ann said.