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Pirates to invade Cape for Harry Chapin Food Bank

By Staff | Oct 10, 2008

The Harry Chapin Food Bank is trying to fend off the rising tide of hunger by throwing a special event, inviting pirates to invade the docks of Cape Harbour on Oct. 25.

This is the third year the “Pirates in Paradise Boat Parade” will ask the community to lend a helping hand to the hungry people in the five-county area.

Harry Chapin Associate Director Joyce Jacobs said that this year has been particularly hard on food banks throughout Southwest Florida, with all agencies — including the Cape Caring Center — seeing a 30 percent to 35 percent increase in clients.

So far, Harry Chapin has distributed about 4.5 million pounds of food this year, according to Jacobs.

“I think we’re up about a half million pounds over this time last year,” Jacobs said. “It just flies out as quickly as it comes in.”

The food shortages are not singular to Southwest Florida, though the area has been particularly hard hit due to the decline in the construction and real estate industries. The 16 food banks statewide have been reporting shortages, Jacobs said, a trend that is all across the country.

In Lee County, the “trickle down” affect of the economic downturn has been incredibly tough.

“It’s not just people in the construction industry. It is real estate agents, furniture people, decorators … our area is dramatically effected by the building industry,” she said.

The Pirates in Paradise is a fun way for the food bank to help bring some hope to the families and food banks alike. Fifty decorated pirate ships are expected to pillage the deck at Rumrunners, as they vie for prizes including best boat and costumes.

The food bank will warm things up with a special silent auction Tuesday in the Cape Harbour courtyard. Donations will also be accepted on the day of the event and during the boat parade.

With the holidays looming, Jacobs said she expects donations to pick up some as Thanksgiving and Christmas have proven to big donation days in the past.

Summer tends to be the most needy months, as kids are out of school and the region’s population drops as part-time residents head back north when the heat and humidity rise.

Jacobs, who has been with the Harry Chapin Food Bank for the last 15 years, said she has never quite seen the need for food so high.

“I’ve never seen the need the way it has been the last six months,” Jacobs said. “These are very hard times for everyone, and we’re doing everything we can to get the word out.”

Pirate in Paradise is a free family event, and is open to the public. For more information, or to learn how to donate food, contact the food bank at 334-7007.