First Naples finds avenues of service during COVID-19

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NAPLES – Organizers with St. Matthew’s House in Naples are seeing more and more people at their weekly food drives and doubt the need will go away anytime soon.

To meet this growing crisis in the community, volunteers at First Baptist Church in Naples have partnered with St. Matthew’s House to host a mobile, drive-thru food bank at the church every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Over the past several weeks, their collaborative effort has given away everything from fresh produce and dry goods to diapers and wipes.

Hour-long food lines are far-reaching in Collier County, but so is the need for masks with the large population of elderly and retired residents in southwest Florida. The sewing ministry at the Naples church, consisting of over 45 seamstresses, have sewn more than 350 N95 masks for Lee Memorial Hospital and additional cloth masks for the VA Clinic in Cape Coral, local doctor’s offices, senior living facilities and other outlets.

“We have already given away to several different hospitals over a thousand masks,” said Kevin Taylor, evangelism and missions pastor at the church.

With requests for more masks from front-line hospitals in the area, such as NCH Healthcare System, the church teamed up with the local JOANN Fabric store to meet the growing need. Volunteers have also made and donated another thousand masks to the Collier County Sheriff’s Department.

First Naples is encouraging members to go beyond their four walls and serve those in their communities and spheres of influence. With stories rolling in everyday about deacons serving widows and members setting up safe places on their street for neighbors to grocery shop, FBC Naples is reaching far beyond their 12-acre campus to serve.

“We have families who are opening up for their whole cul-de-sac, bringing in vegetables and groceries and inviting their elderly neighbors to come and safely shop and getting a chance to minister to them,” said Taylor “This is what the church is all about.”

Chef Herb Small, a long-time member of First Naples, and his team have been preparing lunches several days a week for youth and workers at Youth Haven, an emergency shelter for children from traumatic homes that allows them a safe place to stay.

“It’s encouraging to hear how we are using this crisis and difficult time to share the love and hope of Jesus,” Taylor added.

Reflecting on Proverbs 21:31, where the verse declares that “victory belongs to the Lord,” Taylor said the Naples congregation will continue to serve, while resting in the fact that God is in control. “We have to do our part, continuing to live missional. But it’s in the hands of the Lord. He brings deliverance. We are going to rest in Him and we trust in Him.”

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