Long lines brave the cold for free food gift cards

      By Stefanie

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Hundreds of people braved the cold Sunday night{}in order to get a free holiday food gift card to Piggly Wiggly. The gift card{}is courtesy of the Good Cheer Fund from the Post & Courier and Star Gospel Mission on Meeting Street.

      Some folks even waited in line outside Star Gospel Mission since Saturday afternoon. The first person in line said she had camped out outside since 2pm on Saturday.

      The $50 gift cards go towards food purchases at the Piggly Wiggly. The cards do not buy alcohol, tobacco, or lottery tickets. Rev. William Christian of the Star Gospel Mission said 700 tickets will be passed out to people in line and 300 more will be given to churches to distribute.

      This year the age limit was bumped up to 30 in order to get a gift card. Rev. Christian said the change came from a recommendation from the Charleston Police Department. The goal of the increased age limit from 25 to 30 is so the food hopefully goes to the elderly, Rev. Christian said. Also,{}it's meant to{}cut down on younger people selling the food{}gift cards for cash, according to Rev.{}Christian.

      Police patrolled the long line that stretched down Meeting Street and wrapped around Line Street throughout the night and into the morning. Tensions ran high and small altercations erupted in the early morning hours.{}Charleston Police Department officials calmly resolved the issues with police intervention.

      The gift cards were distributed starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday.