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September 27th, 2020

food bank donations group photoFirst Southern Baptist Church Assistant Pastor Jeremy Harris and South Church of God Pastor Presephoni Fuller take a photo with the Adventure Bay Water Park staff after receiving donations to go toward their respective churches’ food banks. Ultimately, each church received 108 cans of food and $245 in donation money. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Food banks are used by many families every day in many parts of the U.S. and Friday, two Liberal food banks got some donations from a popular local entity. 

Liberal’s Adventure Bay Water Park donated a total of 216 cans of food and $490, which will be split between the food cupboards at South Church of God and First Southern Baptist Church. The donations were accepted Friday morning at Adventure Bay. 

“Adventure Bay having started because of the 1-cent sales tax, and we officially opened here about 10 years ago. This year, we decided to give back to the community as much as possible,” Adventure Bay Assistant Manager Lora Hershey said. “That's where we came up with the idea of having our movie nights and having the admission donations go toward the food cupboards at First Southern Baptist Church and South Church of God. With the movie nights, we showed 'The Jungle Book,' 'The Little Mermaid' and ended the series with 'Jaws,' and those nights ended up going really great, we had a bunch of people come out each time and they had a grand time either swimming in the pool or hanging out on the lounge chairs watching the movie. Admission to the movie nights was either two cans of food per person or $1 per person and ultimately, we ended up being able to give each food cupboard 108 cans of food and $245 each. We had so much doing the movie nights and we had a great time with all of them, but the ultimate purpose was to give back to the community because of how we got started.”

The donations were indeed a sweet surprise for the churches.

“It was only very recently, I got a text from Earl Watt about Adventure Bay wanting to give us a donation toward our food cupboard, which we've had open for only a couple months now,” South Church of God Pastor Presephoni Fuller said. “I was so happy and surprised and I was happy to be at Adventure Bay Friday to receive the donation, it's going to make our food bank much, much larger and will help us with our reserves as we continue to move forward with that. I was excited because timing-wise, I've only been here slightly more than two years, and in that time, I've started advocating for more on the south side of town and everything ultimately came together for us to be able to start the food cupboard. And in just the few months it's been available, we've had donations coming in left and right and it's great to know we're not standing alone and we're getting so much support. When I got the idea for the food cupboard, the main things we needed were the space and some volunteers, both of which came through for us. Our volunteer team is so great and in total, we've been able to help more than 500 people with our cupboard.”

“I also got a call about it only this week, they asked for a representative from First Southern Baptist Church, so I came out and accepted our donation and I'm so happy this came to us, it will help us help several families, it’s such a blessing,” First Southern Baptist Church Assistant Pastor Jeremy Harris said. “It was great actually seeing everything together, it's great to see the community was able to participate in something enjoyable like this at Adventure Bay. Our food bank consistently has families coming through in need, so knowing there are those in the community who are willing to help and want to help, we love that. It's such an awesome blessing seeing how everything came together with this project.  It's such a great blessing and we appreciate it absolutely.”

Adventure Bay Manager Daniel Minde said the donation totals exceeded all of his expectations, and said plans are already being tentatively made for next summer. 

“It made us feel really great knowing we're able to donate as much as we can. When I took over as the pool manager for this summer, I talked with my boss Matt at the Recreation Center about some of the things we were wanting to do and I emphasized how I wanted us to give back to the community, because that's so important,” Minde said. “We're not just the water park here in town, we're a water park that gives back to the community. We came up with a bunch of cool new events and ideas for this year and with the movie nights, the weather cooperated with us and we pulled those off with no trouble, we had about 150 people at each of them. The movie nights saw really great attendance and so did our adult swim nights. When we were planning all of this, we had no idea what all we'd be able to accomplish, but with everything we did, it's awesome knowing we were able to do what we're doing for the food cupboards. We’re already thinking of ways we can increase what we've already done. Our last big event for this year is Pet Day at the Bay Sept. 7. We're wanting to do different events to get people here to the park not only during operating hours but also after hours and other things for the community. All of our events saw great turnout, which we were happy to see, and we can't wait to plan some stuff out for next summer to make things even bigger.”

Overall, Minde and Hershey agreed, the project was a success. 

“We're beyond pleased, it exceeded our wildest imaginations. We had a lot of people who even brought more than the required amount of cans for admission.,” Minde said. “We have such a great community here that really does give back, so it was great to see the community come out and support this. When we officially counted everything, Lora and I were both super surprised with the final numbers of everything.”

“I've noticed people will be very generous if they know their donation is going toward a truly great cause, and that's what happened here,” Hershey agreed. “We're here for families to come and enjoy the water and be safe while doing so, and we can also, as a facility, take that and work with the community and give back to it. We're not going to get very far at all if community does not help community.”

Fuller extended more thanks to the community. 

“I want to again thank South Church of God for the work put in and saying 'Yes' to opening the doors to the food cupboard. This is a task that requires a lot of work, and I'm very thankful to the community and Adventure Bay for taking the time to help us with this,” Fuller said. “Our food cupboard is already helping so many people and is a blessing, so I want to thank everyone who helped with that process and also with all of these donations.”

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