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Hundreds pitch in to help the hungry at Cape church

By Staff | May 3, 2009

Brandt Williamson, 12, showed up at Christ Lutheran Church Saturday morning with his 10-year-old brother and twin 5-year-old sisters, his aunt Melody and her son and daughter, 9 and 6 respectively.
Williamson and his kin were ready to face 44,000 pounds of South Carolina sweet potatoes–to bag them, load them into trucks and send them off to feed the hungry of Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties for the church’s 3rd Annual Potato Drop.
But Williamson and about 300 others, from between 30 to 40 churches and organizations, quickly learned there were no potatoes to bag or load. There were, however, about 25,000 pounds of oranges and squash. Williamson’s giving heart did not waiver at the surprising switch in produce, which was “dumped” in the church parking lot by the St. Andrew Gleaning Network.
“It gives you a good feeling inside to help people who are less fortunate,” Williamson said. “They had tons of boxes of squash and we bagged them, and then we had them in rows, and then we put them in trucks to go to food banks and less fortunate churches. It’s hard work but it pays off.”
The oranges and squash will go to 50 different agencies such as the Harry Chapin Food Bank, the Lee County Bookmobile and the Nations Association.
Additionally, 15 trucks would carry the food to Mt. Hermon Church in Fort Myers, where it will be given to members of the community in need.
A member of Cape Coral First United Methodist Church, Williamson’s spiritual beliefs are part of what compelled him to help out Saturday.
“The bible always says to help people who need it, and that’s Jesus’ message to us,” he said.
Williamson wants to study to become an eye doctor, like his father, to “help people with medical reasons, make sure they’re happy and feeling good,” he said.
The Williamson clan were a few of many, such as Cape Coral man Jim Thompson, who came out to help.
Thompson suffered a work-related injury to his arm, but suffered no injury to his philanthropic nature if Saturday was any example of his eagerness to aid those in need.
“I just saw it in the paper. I’m not a member of the church or anything, and I just said, hey, that sounds like a good idea,” Thompson said. “I got one hand. I can lug bags. I just felt that it was something I should do.”
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans provided lunch at the end of the event, which started at 8 a.m.
Event spokesperson Tracy Moffatt was pleased with the outcome of the charitable get-together.
“It’s an absolute blast because it brings together people of all ages,” Moffatt said. “Our senior ladies come and sit inside and tie bags and the kids have a blast. Everybody just seems to pitch in and it gets done and it’s a really cool thing. We feed a lot of people with it.”
Pastor Gary LaCroix was also pleased.
“It’s a great opportunity to extend outreach into the community on both sides of the river, which is key,” he said. “It’s not something that somebody thinks about on Sunday to go to worship. The whole idea of coming to worship is to get your cup filled and go out into the world and serve, and this is a great way to do it.”
Boy scouts from Lehigh Acres and several local youth groups were among the participants.