Classic automobiles are a big deal in Battle Creek, Mich. Local car enthusiasts love to display their antique models, admire others’ and talk shop. Among them are members of The Salvation Army men’s club, who 11 years ago came up with a creative way to tap into the community’s passion for cars while engaging people for Christ by hosting the first corps-sponsored auto show.
The event has grown into a popular family outing. A free lunch of hotdogs, chips, cookies and cold beverages is served. Children enjoy a giant Red Kettle bounce house and their parents the 40 or so cars on display.
Visitors to the car show fill out contact cards which are followed up with a letter, phone call or personal visit from the corps thanking them for attending and inviting the family to Sunday worship and corps programs.
“It’s a fun family event,” said Major Kevin Van Zee, corps officer. “It helps us connect with the community in a unique way.”
At the end of the day, the best entries are awarded trophies and prizes in a variety of categories. The men’s club holds fundraisers throughout the year and gathers in-kind donations from local businesses to help offset the costs associated with the event.
“A lot of people who would never have a reason to come to the corps attend the car show,” the major concluded. “So we’re engaging with a different demographic.”