As gas prices continue to soar and smiles begin to fade, one local church is hoping to turn those frowns upside down.
On Saturday, Dove Creek Church will be hosting their second “Gas Buy Down” event at Tesoro Service Station in Atascadero, Calif., where customers will receive 25 cents off each gallon of gas.
From 10 a.m. to noon, volunteers from the church will pump gas, clean windows, check oil and tire pressure, fill tires and most importantly reduce those abominable gas prices – with no strings attached.
What began as an idea from the outreach ministry has successfully translated into an exciting community affair, and a tangible way to show God’s love, as lead pastor Dave Curtiss put it in the Atascadero News.
“We expect nothing in return. We just want to give a gift to the community,” he stated. “Our church has a heart for people that are struggling.”
One of the organizers, Eric Dobler, who has been actively part of the outreach team for over two years and a member of the church since about 1980, told The Christian Post that the event was just a way to show their community that they cared.
“We decided this would really be a great way for our church to make a difference, [with] no expectations of anybody,” Dobler shared, “just to say thank you to people.”
Being a small community, where “everybody knows everybody,” it just so happened that Dobler was acquainted with the owner, Don Giessinger, of Tesoro Service Station.
After talks with Giessinger – who considered the situation a “win win” for everyone – Dove Creek Church commenced their first “buy down” last year, where they gave away over 2,300 gallons of gasoline to over 200 cars.
“The hardest part is stopping it,” Dobler expressed. Last year, vehicles lined up and down Morro Road waiting for a turn at the pumps. The station could only serve about eight cars at a time, the Tesoro owner explained.
Paid for by the congregants of the church – mostly through tithing – the funding for the event comes out of an annual outreach budget. Giessinger himself, who attends a different church in the city, made a small contribution last year when the church went over their assessed budget.
“I’m inspired that [the church] really [does] want to make people happy,” the station owner told CP. “All the church members really do like to show that they like to give back to the community, wishing this world was more peaceful, loving and caring.”
“My concept [of church in general] was [that it was its] own little clique, with only the same group of people all the time. To be able to see people and meet people out in a different environment, I think it’s a good thing.”
“We have enough sad things going on in the world. On a day like that when people are pumping gas [at lower costs], big smiles are on everyone’s face.”
Calling it just a “happy time,” Giessinger stressed that every person, no matter who they were, loved saving money, especially on things that they needed to buy like gas.
It’s like a little celebration for two hours, Giessinger said.
Just as good as the event seemed to be for the community, it was just as good if not better for the church itself, Dobler mentioned.
“It’s a tremendous way to bolster internal teamwork and camaraderie. The whole congregation as a whole benefits at least, if not more, from working together.”
Asking him if anyone from the pumps had come into the church as a result, Dobler stated no. “That’s not really the intent of this particular event. The intent really is just to touch people, and if it turns into someone coming into the church, wonderful, but if it doesn’t, it’s all up to God.”
Informational cards, however, would still be made available to patrons with service times and more information about the church itself if people were curious.
“We want to be a church that cares about all people, so this is just one of the ways.”
“I personally really believe it’s more the responsibility of the church than the government to help people in need, so that’s what we try to promote – community involvement and assistance through the church.”
Dove Creek Church, a Church of the Nazarene, has tripled in size in the last couple of years, growing from 50 members two years ago to about 150 members today. Dave Curtiss, the lead pastor, has headed the church for two years now.
All three grades and diesel will be available at the discount price on Saturday. The price reduction will not be reflected on the signs in front of the gas station, but will be taken off at the pump.
Tesoro will also give a $2 off carwash coupon to patrons, like last year.