Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Small Pasco church makes big impact with charity

Eight years ago, several members of a Methodist congregation in northern Hillsborough County split off to form the nondenominational Keystone Community Church. They had more heart than money but found a meeting place at a community center and later a middle school.

In 2009, they finally found a place to call home, a large building in the heart of a community reeling from economic collapse. By coincidence, a bank foreclosure created a rental opportunity, and the Keystone folks didn't waste it.

Angela Hobson, one of the original members, recalls the first time she drove up from her home in New Tampa to the property on State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes, just west of U.S. 41.

"When I turned the corner and saw that big open lot, I had an immediate thought,'' she said. "We should pitch a tent.''

Not just any tent, but a big red and white one visible to the 50,000 vehicles that roll through that major intersection every day, a place where people could bring food and toys and clothing for poor and homeless people served by Metropolitan Ministries.

A tent, albeit smaller, like the one in Tampa where the nonprofit agency over decades had saved many a Thanksgiving and Christmas for families around the bay area.

Keystone Community hadn't even conducted its first service at the new location when church volunteers found themselves welcoming hundreds of well-wishers. In an area where unemployment had skyrocketed as home building hit the wall, the Keystone folks were overwhelmed by the generosity of their new neighbors. They hauled truckloads of frozen turkeys and other groceries to the main collection center.

This week, the tent is pitched for a fifth holiday season, and church members are eager to build on a record that has earned them special recognition from the mother ship. Since 2009, they have collected 50,000 pounds of nonperishable food, 5,600 new toys, 650 frozen turkeys and more than $16,000.

"Keystone Community Church provides a powerful community link on behalf of Metropolitan Ministries' Pasco County outreach,'' said Tim Marks, president of the charity that began in 1972 with 13 downtown Tampa churches. Metropolitan served more than 22,000 families last year in Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties.

Everything collected at Keystone these days is trucked to the charity's primary Pasco outlet at 3214 U.S. 19 in Holiday. The Rev. Dan Campbell oversees the center and last week prepared to welcome a Walmart volunteer crew to erect shelves and stock them with donated food, including more than $30,000 worth collected at Generations Christian Church in Trinity. Qualified recipients who register at the center will push grocery carts through the aisles.

"We believe they should select the food they want, not just give them a box,'' said Campbell. "Our goals are pretty simple: alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency.''

Campbell said Metropolitan coordinates with other charities, such as Toys for Tots, so there is no overlap in services.

The holiday season reveals dozens of inspirational stories of kindness. Keystone's is particularly satisfying as the church has become a beacon of hope for poor people and yet just this year managed to put together enough pennies to afford its first full-time minister, the Rev. Gary Edwards. It also recently hired a youth director, Colin Taylor, who teaches AP history and economics at Sunlake High School.

The church hopes to find a way to buy the property — and to hoist that red and white tent for many years to come.

"It's a proud church,'' offered Angela Hobson.

For good reason.

Comments
He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd says he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the U.S. economy. The pledge announced Wednesday is an offshoot from the sw...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — A top federal immigration official is in Pinellas County this afternoon to announce a workaround to a legal quandary faced by county sheriffs to detain suspected undocumented immigrants in local jails.U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

TALLAHASSEE — The death of a fraternity pledge from alcohol poisoning has led to hazing charges against nine Florida State University students.State attorney Jack Campbell filed charges on Wednesday in Leon County Court.All nine will be charged with ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man robbed while responding to Craigslist sex ad

Man robbed while responding to Craigslist sex ad

HOLIDAY — A man responding to a Craiglist ad for sex was instead robbed by the boyfriend of the woman he was meeting, sheriff’s deputies said. Robert Roser, 39, of Holiday claimed he was part of a police sting operation before taking $60 and two blue...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shake Shack inches closer to Tampa Bay with new Florida restaurant

Shake Shack inches closer to Tampa Bay with new Florida restaurant

Beloved burger restaurant Shake Shack, which once inspired hungry diners to wait in hours-long lines at New York's Madison Square Park before expanding with dozens of locations across the U.S., is inching closer to Tampa Bay. A lease agreement  with...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Teen, 14, arrested on charges of bringing loaded gun to Plant City High School

PLANT CITY — A 14-year-old high school student was accused of bringing a loaded gun to campus on Tuesday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies arrested the boy after 3 p.m. at Plant City High School after administrators foun...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Two Tampa Bay area students among those facing hazing charges in FSU death

Two Tampa Bay area students among those facing hazing charges in FSU death

TALLAHASSEE — Two students from the Tampa Bay area, including the son of an assistant chief for the Tampa Police Department, have been charged in the hazing death of a Florida State University fraternity pledge.Christopher M. Hamlin, 20, of Valrico, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida teen is begging Taylor Swift to take him to prom

Florida teen is begging Taylor Swift to take him to prom

A Bradenton teenager isn’t hoping to take just anyone to his senior prom — he’s set his sights high.Dayton Modderman, a senior at Bradenton Christian School, is getting attention across the web for making a prom-posal video asking Taylor Swift to be ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago