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Priest calls number of hungry kids in Naples a "scandal"


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Priest calls number of hungry kids in Naples a "scandal"

By Matt Grant. CREATED Dec 2, 2012

NAPLES - A Catholic priest is calling it a "scandal" that so many kids are hungry in such a wealth county.

On Sunday, 150 Catholic and Jewish volunteers helped pack and prepare meals to help feed Collier County's neediest children.

Inside Beth Tikvah in Naples, it was an assembly line of hope.

"There's so much need in our county," said Father Russell Wright of St. Peter the Apostle in Naples. "At this time of year, we have to think it's not primarily about what we can get but what we can give."

In Collier County, 62 percent of kids receive free or reduced breakfasts and lunch. Those are meals they won't be getting when school lets out for winter vacation.

That means 25,000 might not be getting three meals a day, said religious leaders.

"It's a scandal," said Wright, "that in this rich county we've still got so many people that are hungry."

That's why Wright along with Catholic and Jewish volunteers joined together to prepare and package meals. The meals will be sent to the Harry Chapin Food Bank and Collier County Schools.

"We actually put out faith into action," said Wright. "Roll up our sleeves and live charity."

"We believe that giving," said Rabbi Ammos Chorny, "is an obligation."

The volunteers made rice and bean casseroles which were then put into sealed pouches and boxed up. It's part of Meals of Hope, a Collier County-based charity, which helps organize food packing events like this one.

Each meal costs 20 cents.
"I'm very fortunate and I know that there are some people that aren't," said volunteer Linda Simon. "And I think I should help."

"I think it's just wonderful that the churches [and synagogues] are all working together to do something good," said volunteer Jan Tremblay. "I think that's wonderful."

Volunteers made 60,000 meals Sunday. Since Meals of Hope started five years ago, volunteers have served up 16 million meals, according to the charity.

Meals of Hope Web site

Matt Grant