First responders cleaning up after Hurricane Ian in Florida received hot meals Wednesday from volunteers with CityServe, a Christian organization that supports local churches in meeting human needs.
However, the workers in Fort Myers and Naples, Florida, didn’t expect who would be handing out the hot meals: former President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.
“Grateful to have joined CityServe, Mercy Chefs, and local churches in Fort Myers and Naples today to deliver emergency food, water, and supplies to families and first responders,” said Ms. Trump, who served as an adviser in the Trump White House. “In the face of unimaginable desolation, it was beautiful to see local communities and these organizations come together during such a difficult time.”
CityServe is a 6-year-old nonprofit that works to “equip and engage” with churches to meet needs in communities, said Pastor Todd Lamphere, the group’s vice president of government relations.
Mercy Chefs, based in Portsmouth, Virginia, provides the manpower to prepare meals for disaster “victims, volunteers and first responders,” the group’s website said.
Ms. Trump and Pastor Paula White-Cain, an evangelical who has been close to Mr. Trump for 23 years, were at the CityServe meal sites, helping to prepare and distribute food.
The two women “wanted to be boots on the ground,” Mr. Lamphere said. “They love serving, they love meeting needs, and CityServe has been privileged to partner with both of them actually to help those who are hurting the most.”
While it was a surprise to have a celebrity volunteer in the serving line, Mr. Lamphere said those receiving the meals were just as grateful to have the hot food.
“When you’re giving someone food, there’s always a smile on people’s faces,” he said of the workers who got the meals. “People don’t care who’s giving you the food, they just are grateful for it.”
Mr. Lamphere said CityServe will continue to work with local congregations to provide resources as the area continues its recovery from the devastating storm. He said that those churches will remain there long after other disaster relief groups have left, and the organization’s efforts are intended to bring optimism to survivors.
“The faith-based community are dispensers of hope,” he said. “When you come with water, or a tarp, or food, what you’re really giving them more than those physical needs, you’re giving them hope. Hope that is connected with help, produces healing in a person, physically, emotionally and spiritually.”