ELKHART - When he first decided to hold an event to benefit Church Community Services in 2009, Tommy Harrell knew he wanted events that would catch people’s attention and weren’t easily forgettable.
Sunday evening, amid wrestlers throwing one another into bouncy houses and all over bleachers, it is clear that Harrell, managing partner of Texas Roadhouse, has accomplished that task.
But while the entertainment rages on in (and outside) the ring in the Texas Roadhouse’s parking lot, an important benefit takes place inside the restaurant.
For the fourth year, Texas Roadhouse held their Headlock on Hunger benefit for CCS, the local organization that offers a food pantry, job and life skills training programs and other services to Elkhartans in need. The restaurant has raised money and held a food drive each of the last four years to benefit CCS, which has culminated in a day of family fun and entertainment, and has featured Impact Christian Wrestling matches to close out the festivities.
What has blossomed has been a strong relationship between CCS and the restaurant, with both trumpeting the important role the other plays in the community.
“It’s amazing the things they do,” Harrell said, noting the vast array of services CCS provides to the local community.
Rod Roberson, executive director of CCS, was just as pleased with the restaurant. He said the local Texas Roadhouse differs from many other restaurant chains in that they “have made the realization that the world around them is bigger than they are,” and have been extremely impactful in the community.
“It has been a beautiful thing,” added Carol Willis, CCS’ director of development, of the four-year partnership between the two.
But the summer months are often some of the most difficult for CCS, especially with the food pantry, according to Willis. “Supply needs to stay ahead of demand,” Bailey Geiger, Texas Roadhouse’s local store marketer said.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Donations to food pantries tend to be much lower in the summer months according to Willis and Roberson.
It’s been a good week for CCS, though. Roberson said that after articles in the Truth Monday and Tuesday and the subsequent spread through social media, coupled with Headlock Sunday, has made for one of the better stretches for the organization in a while. “It’s been an enormously humbling response,” he added, referring to the community’s response to low supplies. Final totals for funds raised and supplies collected by Headlock will be calculated by CCS in the coming days.
“We want the community to thrive,” Harrell concluded. He and Roberson joked that ideally, CCS would be so successful that the organization would no longer be needed and go out of business. But Roberson and Willis remained clear that there was still much to be done and many to be helped. They and Harrell all stated the need for continued support, in the hope that CCS can simply help as many people as possible.