SHUMWAY — It was a day of food, fun and fellowship at the annual Freedomfest hosted by Enduring Freedom Ministries at the former Shumway Grade School on Saturday.

The event was completely free.

Volunteers said there was just enough breeze to keep folks cool and plenty of food to fill the stomachs of everyone who attended Saturday. The event included a cookout, live music, bounce houses and train rides for the little ones and a lemonade shake-up stand.

The Christian Block Party also included opening the doors to the ministry’s free food pantry and clothing.

A Decatur resident came with a friend to the event — now in its 11th year — for the first time.

“It’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen,” said Georgia Conner, 77. “The food was delightful and the people are friendly and nice. The servers were very polite and nice. This is a nice little town.”

Conner said she also enjoyed the Christian music and browsed through the clothing options, as well.

Bob McConkey, 72, of Effingham, was surprised to find the event going on, as he came for the food pantry.

“I’m just listening to the music and waiting for the food pantry to open,” said McConkey. “I just came by chance and didn’t know all of this was going on today. So, I’ll just sit and enjoy the music.”

“We want to feed the people, help clothe the people, give everyone something to drink and invite everyone in, but mostly we want to show the love of Christ,” said Freedom Ministries Executive Director Vickie Kight. “EFM is a group of misfits that love the Lord. We just try to listen and do what is put on our hearts.”

Kight said more than 700 people came to last year’s event. Many volunteers came to serve those from the Effingham area and beyond.

During the block party, Enduring Freedom Ministries fund-raised for a new furnace for its building with a Motorcycle Ride.

“We have a couple other fundraisers coming and we hope to have the full amount raised by fall,” said Kight.

The facility used by EFM was donated by Emil and Melissa Lagerhausen of Shumway.

Beth Wise with Effingham County Connections applauded EFM for providing the community event for families to get food and fellowship.

Wise was promoting the ECC’s Early Learning Program that is geared for pregnant women and families with children, ages birth to 3, to enroll for home visits and community activities.

Cliff and Saundy Miller of Funkhouser were happy they volunteered for the event.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Cliff Miller. “This is the first year I’ve participated and they say it’s growing. And it’s such a nice cause.”

First-time volunteer Sandra Burk, of Effingham, came to the ministry to utilize the food bank after agreeing to temporary placement of a child.

“I said then I’d only take the food, if I could be a volunteer,” said Burk. “I’ve been a volunteer for three months now.”

Volunteer Tammy Leslie and her daughter, Lillian, 16, of Beecher City, were busy making shake-ups for anyone who asked. Lillian said she believed the layout of the music, food, kids games and clothing made for a better flow this year.

“It’s going well,” said Lillian. “I think we have a way better set-up this year.”

Amber Walls and her daughter, Asha Walls, 10, of Effingham were in line for a shake-up.

“It’s enjoyable,” said Amber Walls.

Asha Walls added, “It’s fun.”

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at or 217-347-7151, ext 138.

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