Like an oasis in the desert, motorists flocked to the bright blue sign that touted the words “Free Gas.”
With gas prices continuing to soar, grateful motorists lined up for two city blocks Thursday at the Shell gas station at Crenshaw and Manchester Blvds. to receive ten dollars’ worth of free gas.
The gas is being offered by the grassroots organization First Greater Los Angeles Neighborhood Stabilization Council and the A. Diop Family Care Medical Group who are attempting to help residents facing foreclosure or who lack medical insurance.
GLANSC, a community group founded in 2005 to assist disadvantaged members of the South Los Angeles community, will offer free gas on Thursdays through July 3 at 2 p.m. at the Shell gas station located at 119 S. Compton Ave. at the corner of 120th Street and Compton Avenue in the city of Compton.
“If the driver’s home is in foreclosure, they must show their notice of default or proof that they reside in the property that is in foreclosure, such as a utility bill,” said Louis Hollingsworth, president of GLANSC.
In collaboration with the A. Diop Medical Group, motorists will also receive a free medical card that will allow them to receive pediatric, general medicine, OBGYN, or prenatal or dental care at the clinic.
Hollingsworth said that many residents in South Los Angeles are going through hard financial times. “People are not only falling behind in their mortgages, they’re losing their jobs and health care benefits.”
Oscar Bey, GLANSC vice president, observed, “There will be 1.5 million people in foreclosure at the end of the year. Of that number, at least 500,000 will fall victim to foreclosure or be evicted and kicked out on the street. We’re sounding the alarm to other individuals as well as private and public organizations to get involved with us to provide recession solutions.”
As cars snaked into the gas station, many drivers were spotted calling friends and relatives on their cell phones to hurry to the site to receive free gas.
“My parents have lived in their house for 20 years, but recently they got six months behind in their mortgage,” said David Johnson, 19, a UPS worker. “I’m so grateful these groups are offering free gas because the community needs it.”
Toni Jenkins, 40, a bag coordinator at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), gratefully pulled her car into the station. “Times are getting hard,” said Jenkins. “I drive from Lakewood to LAX everyday. I was spending about $150 a week on gas. It seems as if it goes up every week,” she said.
Another motorist, Latonya Anthony, 29, was grateful to receive the medical card. “I don’t have medical insurance, so this card will come in handy,” she said.
Ed Mitchell waited patiently to get the gas pumped into his vehicle. “My gas tank was on empty when I drove here to the gas station,” said Mitchell. “I’m lucky because I drive a Honda, but it still costs me $35 a week for gas.”
Aisha Trigg, a minister who slowly pulled into the Shell station in a gold Mercedes, said gas prices have severely impacted her daily activities. “I used to travel to Norwalk to a church every Sunday,” said Trigg. “But it takes me $80 a week to fill up my gas tank, so I can’t go anymore.” Trigg also said that she had to reduce her work days from five to two. “I also have a son who lives in Big Bear, but I can’t visit him because I can’t afford the gas.”
Yvonne Hill, 68 and retired, called the high gas prices “ridiculous.” These gas prices are very hard on the senior citizens because they are on fixed incomes,” said Hill. “I think President Bush could have nipped the gas prices in the bud long before they started getting this high. Pausing, she added, “If it weren’t for my faith in the Lord, I don’t think I could make it.”