Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: Pit Stops for Poverty


“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Do you ever go to bed with a gnawing emptiness in your belly? For a lot of kids in the United States that’s a nightly occurrence.

When pit crew member Ray Wright found out kids in his area were going to bed hungry, he was shocked. Wright is the strength and conditioning coach for Richard Childress Racing, and rear tire carrier on the No. 27 of Paul Menard. But more importantly, he’s the father of four young children: two girls and two boys.

In March of this year, Wright learned that Winston-Salem, which is ten minutes from his home, is the 30th worst city in the nation for hunger. He spoke with Skirts and Scuffs about his feelings on kids living in poverty.

“It hit my wife and I really hard,” he said. “In the winter we want our kids to have a blanket and in the summer we want them to be nice and cool. And to think there are kids that close to our house that are hungry…”

He could have made a donation himself and moved on. But Wright decided to do something more, to raise awareness by founding Pit Stops for Poverty, a charity dedicated to feeding hungry folks in North Carolina.

Pits Stops for Poverty is a collaboration of RCR pit crews teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. Funds raised by the pit crews are donated to the food bank. Through his research, Wright learned that one in four kids in North Carolina is food insecure, and summer is a rough time for them.

“There are going to be 154,000 kids who rely on free or reduced price lunches who face uncertainty on how to get that one meal that they’ve had during the school year,” he said.

Current plans are to continue the initiative through the whole 2013 racing season. There are several unique ways fans can donate.

One way is to purchase gear used on pit road, like gloves, knee pads and lug nuts, from the Pit Stops for Poverty online store. The items are inexpensive, and a fun way to secure a piece of NASCAR history while helping someone at the same time.

Wright said another way to donate is to tie it to pit road performance, like the RCR drivers. Each driver chooses his own criteria and donates after each race.

For example, Paul Menard gives a donation for every spot they pick up on pit road, and the driver’s father matches that. Jeff Burton donates for every spot picked up plus every 11-second stop. The Dillon brothers donate for 11-, 12- and 13-second stops. Every driver in the RCR stable participates, Wright said, and fans can, too.

Why is this a big deal to Wright? Because kids are hurting and he wants to do what Jesus would do: feed them.

“I go to a Bible study every week and we’re doing the church thing and we talk it,” he said. “We gotta start walking what we talk.”

Pit Stops for Poverty offers an opportunity for race fans to “walk what they talk,” too. Do you want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world?

“This is a good way for people who are time-pressured like we are, with four kids and a full-time job,” Wright said.

As a NASCAR fan, you can take advantage of this special opportunity to fill the bellies of kids in need. To find out more, visit the Pit Stops for Poverty website and follow them on twitter at @stops4poverty.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:37, 40
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Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!


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