In The News

Twin Lakes Church gives big boost to Second Harvest Food Bank

November 27, 2011

By Cathy Kelly

Together, they made it.

Twin Lakes Church Pastor Rene Schlaepfer announced Sunday the congregation had raised the equivalent of 1.23 million pounds of food for Second Harvest Food Bank, beating a goal of 1 million pounds the church set 10 weeks ago.

Members donated more than $400,000, and each dollar equates to three pounds of food, church and food bank officials said.

The 1,100-capacity church near Cabrillo College was nearly full for the morning service when Schlaepfer announced the results, drawing a roar of applause from the audience. On stage with him was the food bank’s holiday food drive co-chair, Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty, who called the donation “absolutely amazing” and assured the congregation that eliminating hunger in Santa Cruz County was possible.

Schlaepfer said he issued the challenge during a series called “God Is” that explored God’s attributes, including caring for those in need.

He said he went home that Sunday doubting the congregation could raise the necessary $100 from every member, including children.

But he added that it was a child who became a kind of cathartic figure.

That night, Schlaepfer got an email from the family of 6-year-old Travis Buese of Capitola that related how Buese had made paper kites and sold them door-to-door, eventually raising $680, Schlaepfer said.

Schlaepfer said after the service that he was having trouble keeping tears of joys at bay while talking about how church members had met the challenge.

“It really is a dream come true,” he said. “We need to be the hands and feet of Christ. It makes individuals and the community feel complete. Too often, churches can be a lecture hall, versus a lab, which is transforming.”

He mentioned others who pitched in as well, including a group of four brothers, ages 2 to 7, who made and sold toy caterpillars, two martial arts students who held a board “break-a-thon” to raise money and others who did chores for neighbors.

Adults sold furniture, books and coins and others donated their Christmas gifts budget, he said. Yogurtland of Capitola donated a portion of a day’s proceeds.

Leaving the service Sunday, Margie Alcantar and Michele Beserra of Aptos said the news had inspired them.

“It was just so moving to see that we’re a community that helps others experiencing hardships,” Alcantar said.

Beserra said she was not surprised they had exceeded the goal.

“It’s just awesome,” she said. “It builds hope in you.”

The congregation has participated in the holiday food drive for six years, church officials said.

Second Harvest’s holiday food goal is 2.5 million pounds this year, said Danny Keith, the charity’s chief development officer.

“What they brought in today is almost half,” Keith said. “We were blown away that they were even setting that goal. … And it really helped carry the message forward. Twin Lakes was the nucleus and it resonates out from there.”

Second Harvest has seen the need for food climb by 38 percent since 2008, he said, and the pantry now serves nearly 60,000 people per month. The group works with more than 120 agencies, he added.

The congregation also donated $30,000 to assist a Somalian village that will be distributed via World Venture, said Valerie Webb, the church’s office manager.

Original article: Twin Lakes Church gives big boost to Second Harvest Food Bank