Area residents can celebrate the holidays at an old-fashioned sing-a-long and help feed the hungry at the 20th Annual Holiday Carol Sing, presented by First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers and sponsored by the Galloway Family of Dealerships.
The Holiday Carol Sing will be Tuesday, Dec. 14, at First Presbyterian Church, 2438 Second Street in downtown Fort Myers, between Lee Street and Royal Palm Avenue. Admission is at least two cans of non-perishable food for The Soup Kitchen, operated by Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI), and a voluntary cash donation, if you can.
"If you cannot give, come anyway. This is a party it's Jesus' birthday," said Organizer Sam Galloway Jr.
Because of the overwhelming popularity of the event, three performances are planned at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The doors will open 30 minutes prior to show time.
First Presbyterian's pastor, Rev. Paul deJong, is urging the community to help with canned goods and cash donations to help those in need.
"The need for food has become a desperate situation for many families in our community," Rev. deJong said. "Rising unemployment and the ongoing downturn in our local economy have caused many of our neighbors to ask for food to feed their families for the first time in their lives. We need our community to come together and help with all the canned goods they can."
Galloway said cash donations are especially needed because The Soup Kitchen can buy five times as much food for the same amount of money that residents spend at local grocery stores.
"This way, we can take every dollar and make it stretch as far as is humanly possible," he said. "The need is greater now than people realize. Please dig as deep as you can."
Residents who cannot attend any of the Holiday Carol Sing performances may donate canned goods at either the Galloway Ford dealership on Boy Scout Drive or the Coconut Point Ford dealership on U.S. 41 in Estero or mail donations to the Soup Kitchen, P. O. Box 2143, Fort Myers, FL 33902
The Holiday Carol Sing is a festival of holiday music and family fun. This year's 90-minute performance will feature the First Presbyterian Church Choir, soloists and other special guests singing favorite holiday carols with audience sing-a-longs.
There is a strong rumor that Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman will be making a surprise visit for the "children in all of us" along with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and other holiday characters.
All canned goods and cash will benefit CCMI, which operates The Soup Kitchen on Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard in Fort Myers.
The annual Holiday Carol Sing is a major source of support for CCMI, the umbrella agency for the Soup Kitchen and Customer Choice Food Pantries, Meals on Wheels, Montessori Preschool and Social and Homeless Services. CCMI serves Fort Myers and the greater Lee County area, including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres.
The Soup Kitchen serves a noontime meal six days a week to men, women and children. In addition, CCMI prepares and delivers nutritious packaged meals and beverages for the homebound hungry, offers customer choice food pantries and mobile food pantries that provide emergency groceries to families in need, serves two nutritious meals a day for the children in their Montessori Preschool and oversees a backpack program for local school children who would otherwise receive little to no food on the weekends.
"Please try to bring whatever cash donation you can and at least two cans of non-perishable food. And, if you're among those impacted by our poor economy, come anyway and have a good time," Galloway and Rev. deJong said.
Last year, Community Cooperative Ministries received more than 7,000 pounds of canned goods and other non-perishable items from the Holiday Carol Sing. The food was immediately distributed to those in need.
For more information, call First Presbyterian Church at (239) 334-2261.