What a response! What a response! In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, we hosted, in partnership with Feed Thy Neighbor, a Free Market. We offered food, clothes, water, and ice for free here last Saturday. Noted on WINK, Fox4, and several social media sites, we reached hundreds of people who needed bottled water, food, and clothing. It is hard to describe the amounts that we gave away, but 10,000 pounds of bananas was part of it! It was beautiful also to see how so many organizations worked together, and often it was improvisational. For example, as we worked with Feed Thy Neighbor, we were connected with the news stations, the county emergency management services, and then even Homeland Security and FEMA. As we held the event at our church, church groups from Immokalee came to drop off school supplies for Champions for Learning, and to do service in Cape Coral. On their way, they were sent with bananas and water to give away. Similarly, the Knights of Columbus stopped by and got bananas and water for those affected by flood waters in Arcadia.
Last week we also served as a collection point for Champions for Learning as they collected school supplies for students who lost their belongings in the flood waters. Then, on Sunday afternoon they brought a group here to help pack hundreds of backpacks for elementary, middle, and high school students. Our Latino ministry joined in, along with others from our church.
I loved how we worked with the community. We were open and worked in love to help so many in desperate need. I remember one woman who hugged me and cried, saying that she had been praying for help. It’s amazing what can happen when we are open and say yes to others.
But I don’t think our work is done. The communities in Lee County will be rebuilding for a while and I pray that we can be of assistance to them.
Let us pray for so many churches and individuals who have been affected in life-altering ways. Let us be open to what the Spirit brings and how the Spirit can use us to love others.
Fr. Jonathan Evans