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Charities benefit from Easter service generosity

By Staff | Apr 6, 2010

Three local charities will receive some extra funding, thanks to contributions collected at the annual Easter Sunrise Service at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
A Life in Christ hosted the worship service for free, but a collection was taken to benefit the pre-selected charities. Rosemarie Gimlin, secretary of the church, said about 500 people attended Sunday and about $2,300 was collected from the audience.
“We we’re almost dancing around,” she said. “We were very excited and felt so blessed.”
The church has hosted the annual service for about 30 years. Gimlin, who has participated for the last eight years, said it was the largest collection that she could recall.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “That’s the highest amount that I have ever seen.”
After deducting expenses, there was about $1,875 left to be divided among the three charities. This year the collection is going to the Cape Coral Caring Center, a local food pantry; Lifeline Family Center, a residential program for unwed teenagers; and Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation.
Gimlin said each will receive about $625.
Ralph Santillo, founder and president of the Veterans Foundation, said this is the first time that the organization was chosen to receive the Easter Sunday funds.
“We were kind of floored. It was a great honor for us to be chosen to be one of the recipients,” he said. “We were very pleased.”
“It was a big help to us,” Santillo added, noting that the $625 is “a million bucks” to them. “We need all the help we can get for the work we do.”
Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation is a free outreach program for veterans. It provides breakfast and lunch daily, provides food for veterans and their families, offer clothing for its thrift story and helps furnish
the homes of veterans who have recently moved to the area.
They help veterans secure jobs and complete school, assist with deciphering one’s GI bill and benefits and offers counseling. Since opening in September, it has “probably had over 150 veterans” seek help and at least one-third have found the assistance that they needed, Santillo reported.
The organization has moved at least six veterans and families into housing, helped at least four graduate from a vocational school and assisted others in getting their finances to get scholarship money through GI benefits.
“We keep pretty busy here,” he said. “Anything the need, that’s what we’re here for.”
The Lifeline Family Center also received the Easter Sunday funds for the first time this year. Nanette Scoville, with ministry development, said the facility is a home and learning center for pregnant teenagers.
“We’re very happy about it, obviously, very grateful to the church and what they’re been doing,” she said. “To include us as part of that is truly a blessing.”
The currently full center can house up to 12 teens and 24 babies at a time. Scoville said the donation can go toward baby formula and diapers to helping keep the lights on at the facility. The center offers an education and internal curriculum for the teens, which require books, along with online learning.
“There’s many needs here,” she said.
According to Scoville, most of the teens who enter the center do not have a diploma. The facility offers tutoring to help the girls earn that recognition to prepare them for providing for their child as a single mother. It also helps the teens select a profession and find employment prior to leaving.
“So they will not have to rely on any government assistance,” she said.
The Cape Coral Caring Center, the one charity unaware prior to the Sunday service that it would be receiving funds, is to get the Easter money for the first time as well.
“We’re delighted with any kind of recognition and this is very generous,” Executive Director Fred Cull said. “We’re on a record-breaking year. If we keep going at the pace we are at we’ll break last year’s record.”
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Cape Coral Caring Center assisted 4,323 families, or more than 14,000 people in economic distress, in 2009. The organization has a food pantry and provides food to those in need.
“We can certainly use the money to fill in any hole there,” he said.
Cull added that the organization helps with utility bills in the event that one’s power is shut off and helps with doctor prescribed medication for children if the family cannot afford it.
“The community is very generous to those in need,” he said. “We’re full of anticipation and very grateful for the recognition.”
For more information about the Veterans Foundation, call 541-8704.
For information about the Lifeline Family Center or to make a monetary donation, visit: www.lifelinefamilycenter.org . The “wish list” link will provide an updated list of items the facility is currently in need of for those seeking to donate items.
For more information about the Cape Coral Caring Center, call 945-1927. The organization is happy to receive donations of food, but suggests cash donations instead because it buys in bulk and can make a dollar go further.
A Life in Christ owns and operates Cuppa Life, a speciality coffee, drink and sandwich shop at 1512 S.E. 14th St., Unit 6. It holds worship services at the shop at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday. The shop is open from 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information on A Life in Christ or the Easter service, call 574-3511 or visit: www.havealifeinchrist.com .