Family of Weinbach explosion victims giving free Thanksgiving meals after tragic loss

Thursday marks 16th year of Full Gospel Mission giving back to community
Family of Weinbach explosion victims giving free Thanksgiving meals after tragic loss
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 9:41 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For 16 years, Full Gospel Mission has been giving out meals on Thanksgiving. The tradition began as Nila Hite’s idea.

“I’ve always had a heart for serving,” she told 14 News on Wednesday as they prepared meals. “I just really wanted to make it bigger than just my little house.”

They opened their church kitchen all those years ago and now serve hundreds of people each year.

“The end goal is to see people get fed and show them that warm love,” said Nila’s stepson Steve.

It’s predominantly a family affair, but this year, their family got a little smaller.

“This is the first year without him,” Steve said.

His brother Charlie and sister-in-law Martina died when their home exploded on Weinbach Avenue in August.

“He would be right here alongside [me],” he reminisced as he prepared a turkey. “He’d get off work and come straight here, just like we do.”

He and Nila described how Charlie and Martina were eager to help.

“Whatever was needed to be done, they jumped right in and laughed and enjoyed it just like we do,” she said. “Charlie and Martina, both, they’re so missed, but staying busy during Thanksgiving helps.”

Steve said he hopes they are doing what Charlie would want.

“He would want us to keep rolling,” he said. “He’d want us to keep moving and doing... He liked to give back. He liked to see others be happy.”

Smiles were everywhere as they prepared to feed their community and spread some joy.

They said it was a good day, but as they continue to grieve, they know not every day will be easy.

“Thanksgiving’s going to be a little bit easier, but Christmas, we’re really not looking forward to,” Nila said. “[Charlie and Martina are] missed.”

In their absence, they said they just want to share that love with anyone who needs it.

“We want [people] to come,” Nila said. “Be a part. If they don’t have somewhere to go, I want them to come and enjoy.”

They said all are welcome to be a part of their Thanksgiving.

They begin serving food at Full Gospel Mission at 318 E. Tennessee St. on Thursday at noon, and they will continue giving out food until it’s all gone.

The Hites wanted to thank several of the people and organizations that donated food, including Meijer, Donut Bank, their church’s congregation, Wayback Burgers and Fresh Market.