To help ease the financial burden of people due to coronavirus pandemic, a Florida megachurch paid off the lunch debts of students for more than $38,000 in two public schools.
Idlewild Baptist Church donated $17,000 to Pasco County for lunch debts of all its students and $21,367.33 to Hillsborough County's juniors and seniors, Patch wrote.
Senior Pastor Ken Whitten said that the church wants to show support to the community in the midst of uncertainty, hoping that the donation will be a source of hope during the pandemic.
Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning was overwhelmed with the gesture and said, "We can't thank Idlewild Baptist Church enough for this generous donation. This will really make a difference. It will come as a relief to so many families, especially at a time when many are struggling."
Addison Davis, Hillsborough County superintendent, was also moved with the church's charity act.
"This act of kindness from Idlewild comes at a time when many of our families need additional support to help make ends meet. We deeply appreciate faith-based community partners like Idlewild whose dedication and generosity provide critical support and hope for families across Hillsborough County," Davis stated.
Speaking to The Christian Post, the church's local missions Director Yerusha Bunag said that the financial aid was part of Idlewild's goal to help the students in local public schools.
"Our church has been very invested in helping public schools in our community. Before COVID, we were involved in tutoring, mentoring, campus rejuvenation, student supplies, teacher appreciation events, etc.," Bunag stated.
When the pandemic hit, the church started giving groceries to parents who were picking up lunches for their children.
In an effort to provide more assistance, the church spoke with the school districts in two counties near Idlewild and learned that the students' debt from the schools was high. Thus, Idlewild decided to help pay off debt as much as it could.
"We wanted students to know that God loves them; that in God, all debts are paid. So that's what we did. We paid the debt for juniors and seniors at Hillsborough County and the debt for all students at Pasco County," she added.
She also said that the action aims to show the community about God's grace to people, manifested by the church through its charitable efforts.
"We want to be a good testimony of what real love is. We want our community to be curious about what God's love is. We want them to be attracted by our good works so that they will be open to listening to the Gospel," she further stated.
The director pointed out that the church do not seek "vainglory" for their effort, they do it "for the sake of the cross and reach the lost."
Founded in 1934, Idlewild Baptist Church aims to serve the community, America and places in the world "where Jesus in not known."
Today, it has one of the biggest worship centers in Florida.