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Second Harvest Food Bank gets largest donation ever from church  

By TOM ragan
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER

WATSONVILLE Somebody up above is looking out for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Or maybe it's just the 3,000 members who belong to the Aptos-based Twin Lakes Church who collected nearly 50,000 pounds of nonperishable food for Second Harvest.

Two weeks ago, the church set out to help the hungry and the poor by calling on its parishioners to bring food to church in an attempt to feed the poor and the hungry as Thanksgiving approaches.

Friday, the food bank finally finished the to-and-fro hauling that has ensued in the past two days from Aptos to Watsonville ever since it got word of piles and piles of donated canned foods.

"This is the largest single donation we've ever gotten from a church in the history of the food bank," said Lee Mercer, director of education and outreach for Second Harvest.

Pastor Rene Schlaepfer and his wife, Laurie, said the church holds a Share Fest each year where its members help the community with various projects whether it's painting school hallways in Santa Cruz County or pitching in to clean up a section of road.

This year, Twin Lakes Church directed its attention to the food bank, which distributes food on a monthly basis to roughly 43,000 hungry people living Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

"We called up Second Harvest, and we asked them how much it would take to feed the hungry in Santa Cruz County, and they told us about 25,000 pounds a week," said Laurie Schlaepfer, in recounting how the donations started rolling. "We figured that would come to roughly 8.5 pounds per man, woman and child in our congregation."

Ultimately, the members of the congregation went beyond the call of duty, with some families bringing as much as 100 pounds of food a piece," Lori Schlaepfer said.

"We were just shocked," she said, "and of course, Second Harvest was shocked, too. It took them two and a half days to load it all."

Mercer said the food will be distributed to the thousands of families as early as next week.

"This was a fantastic donation," he said. "It just shows how people can help other people if they just take a little time out of their lives and help out."

Contact Tom Ragan at tragan@santacruzsentinel.com

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