EARLY — David Roe, a retired minister who lives with his wife, Darlene, near Blanket, wants to make sure the community recognizes the efforts of volunteer firefighters.

What started as an effort on Roe's part to show his appreciation to the Early and Blanket fire departments — for their response to a fire that destroyed his mobile home — is turning into a free barbecue meal for the community beginning at noon Saturday. The meal will be at the church the Roes attend — Freedom Fellowship Church, 1040 Early Blvd.

Members of a church in Burleson are coming down to provide the meal as part of a food outreach the church does on a regular basis. There will be brisket, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, beans, drinks, funnel cakes and activities for children, and the lunch will continue "until all the food is gone," a flyer proclaims. "Everyone is welcome."

"They have a food ministry that's unbelievable," Early City Administrator Ken Thomas said.

Jim Maxwell, pastor of the Early church, and Thomas, a member of the church, explained how a free meal for the community evolved from the March 8 fire that destroyed the Roes' home.

"They lost everything," Thomas said of the Roes. "They were so impressed with the way the firemen handled themselves, they wanted to do something to honor the firemen."

Maxwell knows Troy Brewer, pastor of the Burleson church. Brewer was already scheduled to come to the Early church and speak at a men's prayer breakfast. Roe had been in charge of arranging the scheduling, and by coincidence, Brewer called Roe the day of the fire to talk about the plans. Roe told Brewer about the fire, and plans began to expand.

About 20 members from the Burleson church will be in Early to help put on the meal. "They have a food 

"As a church, we'd already been talking about doing an outreach to bless the community, anyway," Maxwell said.

"Everybody just come. We want to meet people. We want to bless them."

Maxwell, who is from Fort Worth, moved with his wife, Anita, to Brown County 22 months ago to become pastor of Freedom Fellowship Church after Dan Chapman retired as the church's pastor. The church previously was known as Trinity Chapel.

Thomas said the Roes are living in a travel trailer until they build a new home.

Roe said although the volunteer firefighters hadn't been able to save their mobile home, he was impressed with the concern the firemen showed the couple. "I just know these guys put it on the line all the time, and a lot of times they don't get appreciated for it," Roe said. "I just appreciate the guys and what they did and the way they treated us.

"I just think the community should know that they ought to appreciate these guys."