PORTSMOUTH, Va. — It sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s the real deal: free gasoline for your car.
Portsmouth's Grove Church is behind the massive gas giveaway at Portsmouth’s Exxon Tiger Mart.
Senior Pastor Dr. Melvin Marriner explained it succinctly, “Today is we pay, you pump.”
Dwain Blake was one of the hundreds of drivers waiting to fill their tanks.
“Free gas! Ain’t nothing like free gas," Blake said. ”I’m definitely going to wait for this here. If it takes all day, I’ll be here.”
And it’s a long wait. Scores of cars, trucks and SUVs wrapped around the block.
“As long as my car can hold out!" said Belinda DeBerry, another driver. "I came way from another area, I was almost on ‘E’ when I did that. Luckily the car holds good on gas, so as long as we don’t got to wait too long I’ll be alright.”
The church is paying for $10,000 worth of fuel, with a limit of $25 per car, which is enough gas for 400 vehicles.
“I’m amazed," Marriner said about the turnout. "I know that when you give away free things they will come, but their patience! They were here maybe since 7:00 this morning."
Marriner said he noticed gas prices were going up and his church just wanted to help the community and give back.
He said a lot of people struggled during the pandemic - with health and financial concerns - so he wanted to help out and encourage everyone that brighter days lie ahead.
“We just care. Meeting the needs of people is what we’re about," he said. “It’s just a part of what we should be doing. So I don’t think that this is something outrageous, it is something the church should be doing when they’re able to do it.”
This was the church’s first gas giveaway but Grove Church is no stranger to helping the community. During the pandemic, the pastor said they did a lot of charity work ranging from rent assistance to food bank donations.
Anyone is welcome to show up and get $25 in gas before the $10,000 runs out. The Exxon Tiger Mart is at 5830 High Street West in Portsmouth.