• 91°

FAITH & FAMILY — First Baptist Nederland giving out free fans for 4th of July

NEDERLAND — First Baptist Church in Nederland usually celebrates the Fourth of July with a large celebration and community picnic.

This year, due to COVID-19, church members are cooling it down.

On July 4, from 9 a.m. until noon, the church will give out 1,000 box fans. First come, first serve.

Pastor Jason Burden said the idea came to him last month while working in his garage on a hot day.

“Back on June 3, I got two calls from some very close ministry partners that have shown up in Southeast Texas during disasters — Texas Baptist Men and Red Cross,” he said. “That day, during what became Tropical Storm Cristobal, they were calling to see if they could use our facilities and parking lot to see if there was a need. Thankfully, there wasn’t a need.”

The interaction got Burden thinking of the community he hadn’t seen in months.

“As a church, we haven’t had an opportunity to reach out to our community because of COVID-19,” Burden said. “Usually, we’d have some things on the calendar, functions and events where we are able to engage with people. COVID-19 took all those off the schedule.”

First Baptist Church in Nederland is giving away 1,000 fans between 9 a.m. and noon Saturday.

That same week it started to get really hot.

“The Saturday after June 3 I was doing some work in my garage and was burning up,” Burden said. “I went to the dollar store to get a box fan and they only had two in stock and one was broke. I thought, there is probably a lot of people that are going to be suffering this summer. If there is something we can do about that, we want to encourage some people, even if that means just giving them a fan, to mitigate the heat.”

After speaking with church members, staff and a friend with access to bulk equipment, the fan giveaway was set.

“That’s how this all got started,” he said. “We wanted to show the community we are thinking about them, praying for them and want to do good for them.”

Community members have donated fans and money to the cause.

“Normally, right before Fourth of July, we have a huge church-wide picnic where everybody is invited,” Burden said. “I asked our people when we started this project if they would give this picnic to the community. We called it ‘Giveaway my picnic.’”

Community members donated fans in honor or in memory of others.

Instead of bringing food to the annual picnic, people donated fans and money.

“People responded positively. The money we usually spend on the picnic is going to help people feel comfortable this summer.”

Burden hopes enough fans have been purchased that it will satisfy the need.

“I hope nobody waits until the last minute to come by because I expect to give out all 1,000 by noon Saturday,” he said.

Those in need of a fan do not need to be a resident of Nederland for pickup.

“We, as a church, truly want to show our full support to our community in these uncertain days,” Burden said. “We do this because we love Southeast Texas and want everyone to be as cool as possible.”

Other church activities regularly scheduled for the summer months include youth camp, children’s camp and Bible vacation school.

Burden said some events will see changes, others cancellations.

“Youth camp has been changed to a more online experience, while children’s camp is on hold,” he said. “We are trying to salvage Bible vacation class, but that will probably be put off until next year.

“It’s sad that we have not been able to provide these things to the public as we normally would. We are trying to salvage as many things as possible.”

First Baptist Church Nederland is located at 1911 Nederland Ave.