Editor’s note: WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Va., has reported that since the story first broke, the Pepsi distribution center has reversed its decision and renewed the donation to God’s Pit Crew. For more details, please see the update at the end of this story.
God’s Pit Crew in action
A Pepsi Company distribution center that has reportedly given close to 18 tractor trailer loads of its Gatorade product to an emergency relief ministry has now stopped the flow because it has a problem with the organization’s name.
According to WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Va., the distribution center dropped the donations because God’s Pit Crew, which has distributed the Gatorade to people in need following natural disasters, has the word “God” in its name.
“We make absolutely no excuses for being a faith-based, a religious-based organization,” Randy Johnson, founder and director of God’s Pit Crew, told the station. “We don’t discriminate; we help those in need whether they’re believers or non believers.”
According to the ministry’s web site, God’s Pit Crew is a non-profit organization of over 300 volunteers that trucks supplies and workers across the country to help victims of tornados, floods and hurricanes.
Officials at the Pepsi distribution center in Wytheville, Va., however, reportedly told WSET-TV that they are cutting off donations to God’s Pit Crew because plant policies governing giving prohibit continued donation to a relief organization with “God” in its name.
God’s Pit Crew reports that since its founding in 1999, it has responded to 37 natural disasters in 18 states.
God’s Pit Crew trucks on the road
In addition to distributing over 4 million pounds of supplies in caravans of blazing red and yellow, checkered flag trucks that look like they came right off NASCAR pit lane, the ministry’s volunteers lend their hands in times of need. The website describes clearing debris, patching houses, rebuilding churches and working in feeding kitchens that provide hot meals for up to 10,000 people a day.
The ministry states that one of its primary goals, in addition to disaster relief, is to “teach and demonstrate service, teamwork and self-esteem into the lives of young people.”
Part of that example also includes working in the local community, where God’s Pit Crew has distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food and supplies to the needy, over 80,000 pounds of new baby supplies to crisis pregnancy centers and more than 60,000 pounds of toys and candy to needy children.
The supplies they distribute include ice, food and water, but as for Gatorade, God’s Pit Crew will have to search for a new supplier for the time being.
Pepsi plant officials told WSET-TV that they are reviewing the policies in hopes of resuming donations soon.
WND contacted both God’s Pit Crew and the Pepsi distribution center, but neither was available for comment over weekend hours.
UPDATE: WSET-TV now reports that within an hour of publicizing the story, a Gatorade official informed the station that the Wytheville PepsiCo Distribution Center will now resume making donations to God’s Pit Crew. And while plant officials had linked the stoppage to the word “God” in the relief ministry’s name, Gatorade spokesperson Jennifer Schmidt denied that religion played any part in the termination of donations.