Residents of Burleson are being asked to open their hearts — and their pocketbooks — to help the people of West recover from the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17 that demolished a large portion of the small town and left the close-knit community reeling.
The iWash&Go car wash on Texas 174 is pledging a portion of its sales on Saturday to West relief efforts, and a Christian music concert is set for May 11 in Burleson to raise money for the town.
Wash for West
Nadine Jabal with iWash&Go, located at 2475 S.W. Wilshire Boulevard, said that for every car washed at the facility on Saturday, iWash&Go will donate $1.50 to the city of West.
The special donation begins at 7 a.m. and lasts all day, Jabal said.
Car washes at iWash&Go range from $3 to $15.
As the news of the devastation in West continued to pour in the days following the explosion, the Rev. Jonathan Leonard, pastor of St. Matthew Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Burleson felt that God was calling him and his church to respond to the needs of their neighbors just down Interstate 35. From that call was born the West, Texas Benefit Concert, set for 6:45 p.m. May 11 at Venue 510, 510 S.W. Wilshire Blvd.
The concert, featuring Christian music artists Shane & Shane, is free, but those attending must have a ticket for admission, and donations to be used in rebuilding West will be accepted. Tickets are available at www.510.org. Some area churches will have tickets available over the weekend, too.
Andrew Dolan, worship leader at St. Matthew Cumberland will open for Shane and Shane, and the Rev. Phil Imicke, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in West, will speak during the intermission.
Leonard said Wednesday that he only recently moved to Burleson from New Jersey, coming to Texas to take the job of pastor at St. Matthew Cumberland Presbyterian. His church in New Jersey, he said, hosted a couple of concerts to benefit international mission projects, including one concert a couple of years ago to raise money for an organization in Thailand that works to rescue young women from slavery in the sex trade.
That concert, Leonard said, had featured the duo of Shane & Shane, too.
“I was hearing all the news about West, and I was thinking that’s only 45 minutes away from us. That’s pretty close to home, and we really need to do something to help,” Leonard said. “I thought about the concerts we did in New Jersey, and I thought that would be a good way to help the people of West, too.”
Leonard said he remembered that Shane & Shane — Shane Everett and Shane Barnard — are based in North Texas and decided to get in touch to see if they would participate.
“I called them up and they said sure. I asked them what open dates they had, and they said May 11, so that’s what we decided on,” Leonard said.
Leonard said the initial plan was to hold the concert at St. Matthew Cumberland church. But then he contacted the management at 88.3 The Journey radio station for help in promoting the event, and Manager Michael Agee urged him to contact Bill Beacham, owner of Venue 510.
“I did, and now they are hosting the concert for free. They’ve done all kinds of ads for us, hundreds of flyers. They are the ones who got the other churches and some of the local businesses involved,” Leonard said. “Billy Beacham at Venue 510 and Michael Agee at 88.3 The Journey have done so much to help us and make this a success.”
Other churches participating in the event so far are First Baptist Church of Burleson, Victory Fellowship Church and Graceview Church.
Leonard said organizers hope to raise at least $50,000 in donations for West through the concert. It is, he said, a very reachable goal.
“I was praying about it, and God told me we should aim for $50,000,” Leonard said. “So that’s where we set our goal. But I am looking for us to far exceed that goal.”
With the explosion just a few weeks passed and the story still making headlines around the country, Leonard said, attention is still focused on the city of West, and help in various forms is still pouring in. But that won’t last.
“Everyone is helping them our now because the story is still in the headlines. But a couple of months down the road, when the story is fading from the headlines, the people of West will still need help. We hope the money we raise will help them then,” Leonard said.
“Right now, what they need is prayer. That’s what we are asking for as well as donations of money. Pray for the people there, that God can restore this community,” he said.