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Sheriff’s Department event to fight hunger, honor vets

By Staff | Dec 3, 2014

With so many families in Lee County unsure of whether they will be able to enjoy a holiday meal this Christmas, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Balgas Oil has teamed up to make sure such a modest need is met for those who need it.

The first Fight Holiday Hunger event will take place at North Fort Myers Community Park on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature live music, food, fun and a ceremony to honor World War II veterans, with the price of admission being either two canned goods or a cash donation.

Capt. Chris Reeves of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said when he came into the community as commander of his unit, they started to “adopt” families which, while a wonderful gesture, only went so far with so many others also in need.

“With presents and toys you could only adopt so many families and it didn’t seem fair to the community,” Reeves said. “So we came up with an idea to impact the community as a whole and put on this event.”

The event will feature local favorite Black Water, which will play country and Southern rock favorites, and Doug Luther, a country artist and songwriter from Kansas City who performs favorites and original material.

There will also be a car show with a projected 75 to 100 classic cars on hand thanks to Hot Chili Rods out of Cape Coral, Reeves said.

There will also be carnival games, a barbecue, bounce houses, the Sheriff’s Office helicopter and SWAT team and much more.

And as Reeves said, you can’t beat the price, with those who contribute 10 canned goods being entered to win a set of custom-made cornhole boards.

Reeves said the Sheriff’s Office started its drive early and, with the help of B.J.’s, has already gotten strong support and helped assure those at the Suncoast Community Center pantry there will be food for the holidays.

“Our original goal was to raise 10,000 cans of food, but we’ve already raised more than 4,500 cans and delivered it to the food bank,” Reeves said. “The pantry was completely empty and we filled it. I think we underestimated what we want to do.”

Blagas is paying for the entire event, while All-American Print & Design donated the flyers and artwork’ Darden Restaurants is in the process of giving a donation, as has Walmart, Reeves said.

“We have a lot of families in need. This will ensure that children won’t go hungry during the holidays and that makes us happy,” Reeves said. “The community help has been huge so far.”

Since Dec. 7 is also the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, the event will also feature a ceremony to honor World War II veterans will be between noon and 1 p.m. The honor guard from American Legion Post 81 will be on hand, as will the family members of those who served and the motorcycle riders from the area veterans organizations, said Doug Robison, a member of the post 81 honor guard.