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SWAT team on a mission

By Staff | Dec 20, 2011

The Cape Coral Police Department’s SWAT team collected food donations Tuesday outside of a local store to benefit the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Since Dec. 1, the police department has been collecting donations of non-perishable food items as part of an employee food drive to benefit the local food bank. Nearly 500 pounds of food had been collected prior to Tuesday.

In a last ditch effort to collect as much as possible, the SWAT team set up Tuesday outside the Wal-Mart on Del Prado Boulevard from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They collected more than 15 shopping carts filled with food.

“We wanted to get out here and give back,” Officer Lucas Smoker said, adding that the community has shown the SWAT team a lot of support.

People dropped off canned goods, cereal, boxed foods and other items. Two people each donated a cart filled with food – $60 or $70 worth of items.

Some people donated cash, which was used inside to buy more food.

“They think it’s a great idea,” he said of the public’s reaction to the drive.

Cape residents John and Bonnie Knue stopped by the CCPD table to donate some canned goods with their grandsons. They saw the set up on the way in.

“It’s just to help out people who need food,” Connie Knue said of why they chose to donate.

The couple donates regularly to local organizations and youth groups.

“You just never know, you may be next,” John Knue said.

According to Smoker, the team got a lot of positive feedback from people.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of support,” he said. “It’s been good.”

In addition to accepting donations for the food drive Tuesday, the SWAT team handed out free stickers and bracelets to young children and offered tours of a SWAT vehicle on scene. They also took photographs with youth.

“It’s fun for them,” Smoker said of the children.

The CCPD’s food drive ends Thursday.

“This is a great way for the SWAT team to give back to the community,” SWAT team leader Sgt. Carlos Mena said. “We realize that there are people in need right here in our city, and this is a great way for us to help out.”

He said people continued to drop off bags of food into the evening hours.

“It was us giving back to the community and helping those in need, but it turns out the community is helping the community,” Mena added.