High Gas Prices Hard On The Soul

Gas prices show no signs of laying off the accelerator. The nationwide average is $2.90 cents, 20 cents more than this time last month. In East Texas, regular unleaded is hovering around $2.70, and for one woman, that means making some serious sacrifices. She says she and her family can no longer afford to go to the church they love, because it just costs too much to get there.

Renee McDaniel has custody of her three grandchildren. Dazia, 5, Diondre, 9, and a 3 year-old who is spending the weekend away. Renee's daughter is in jail on a drug conviction, and the children's father is no longer a part of their lives.

She says, "Where these children have come from, their background, they need God in their lives."

For the last two years, Renee has taken her grandchildren to Green Acres Baptist Church, on the opposite side of town from where she lives. Renee chose it, because they have a strong children's ministry.

"That's where all their friends were, and they really miss that. They had so much fun learning about Jesus in a fun way," Renee said.

The family hasn't been to church for the last six months, because Renee can't afford the gas it takes to make the 26-mile round trip. She's a cashier at Wal-Mart, and only brings home $350 every two weeks. She says it takes nearly half of that to fill up the 40 gallon tank in her 1986 Suburban.

"I had to make cutbacks, and church was one of them, because it ate the most of my monthly allowance," Renee said.

Renee and her grandchildren have tried other churches that are closer, but they have not found one the children like as well. She says the financial strain has been a test of faith, and she continues to pray the gas prices will go down, and things will get better.

Lindsay Wilcox reporting, lwilcox@kltv.com