DECATUR — At least drivers of the cars wrapped around St. John’s Lutheran Church on Tuesday afternoon could tell they were near the finish line.
Checkered flags decorated the route leading to the pickup point for enough food and personal care products to help about 400 needy families make it to the end of the month.
LaDawne Tindall, 28, of Decatur, a single mother who’s unable to work because of congestive heart failure, was moved to tears, especially when she saw the free family pass to Macon Speedway among the gifts she received.
“I always tell my kids, ‘Mom can only do this,’ and ‘Mom can only do that,’ ” she said. “Maybe this will help make up for it.”
Tuesday’s giveaway by Oklahoma City-based Feed The Children, made to clients selected by the Northeast Community Fund, was made possible by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, co-owner of Macon Speedway, for his second-place finish in this year’s Prelude to the Dream race June 6 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
It is one of 10 truckloads of food Feed The Children is sending around the country, one for each of the top 10 finishers.
Stewart, who lives in Columbus, Ind., may not have been on hand to load cars with boxes Tuesday, but other track owners were. They included Bob Sargent as well as race car drivers and Missouri natives Kenny Wallace and Kenny Schrader, both of Concord, N.C.
“This ain’t even work,” Wallace said. “I’m in good shape, I’m lucky, and this is my way of paying it forward.”
Jerry Pelz, executive director of the Northeast Community Fund, praised the men for their hands-on contributions. “They’re giving this event a real personal touch,” he said.
A Tony Stewart race car was on display at the church, in addition to the checkered flags, but 27-year-old Krystal Johnson barely gave it a second look after walking about two miles with a well-used portable grocery cart to get there.
A single mother to four children ranging from ages 2 to 9, Johnson has no car and has been out of work since she was laid off by StarTek in January. “You do what you have to do as a mother,” she said.
Still, Johnson was relieved volunteers with Northeast Community Fund were going to deliver the 70 pounds of supplies she received to her home in Old King’s Orchard and that she would not have to haul it back herself.
“We do get assistance from the government, but it’s not enough,” she said. “I’m a coupon shopper, and I spend wisely, but it’s just not enough right now.”