Operation Starfish® Gives a Life-Transforming Gift to Food For The Poor

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (May 25, 2017)  Today, Fr. Robert C. Cilinski, pastor of the Church of the Nativity, presented Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor, with a check from his parish's 2017 Operation Starfish® campaign, which was created by the late Fr. Richard Martin in 1998.

"My life has been greatly enriched by my encounter with Food For The Poor since I arrived at Nativity three years ago. I am reminded that we all need each other. 'YOU' has been turned into an 'US'," said Fr. Cilinski. "We bring to you a gift that represents our prayers, support, our belief in you and our gratitude for your good work."

This is the 19th anniversary of Operation Starfish® and today's donation will be used to build the 11th Nativity Village, this one in Despuzeau, Haiti. Located 25 miles east of Port-au-Prince, this dry and barren community was chosen by the church's college and young adult ministry during their mission trip to the Caribbean nation with Fr. Cilinski last July.

The majority of the families in Despuzeau live in one-room shacks made of clay and mud, with dirt floors. These homes do not provide adequate protection from the elements, and many of the adults in the community are unemployed.

This latest village will provide 80 families with secure homes with flush toilets and solar-powered light kits, a community center, and a school with a sanitation block, along with furnishings and playground. A self-sustaining animal husbandry project also will be included.

"Words are not enough to express our gratitude. This gift is truly a blessing and will help us to provide shelter for one family at a time, to shelter them from the storm and to cool them from the heat," said Mahfood. "God bless you and we are so proud of Nativity, you are truly blessed and we thank you very much for what you're doing."

During the past 19 years, Nativity's Parish has partnered with Food For The Poor to build more than 1,400 homes in 10 Nativity Villages. They have established various co-ops, such as sewing and fishing villages, in addition to aquaculture, agriculture and animal husbandry projects in Haiti. The church also helped to support Food For The Poor with relief during times of natural disasters.

Jim McDaniel, who retired from Food For The Poor last year and who serves as a liaison with Nativity and its Operation Starfish® campaign, reflected on the longstanding and beautiful tradition during the celebration at Food For The Poor's headquarters in Coconut Creek, Fla.

"As important as the money is, the Operation Starfish® campaign has never been about the money alone, it's always been about the heart. It's about helping people, that is what we do," said McDaniel. "Today, I may be wearing a visitor's badge, but I am still a part of your family and I always will be."

A group of Nativity's parishioners will return to Haiti with Food For The Poor the week of July 10-14 for its annual mission trip.

Those interested in starting an Operation Starfish® program at their parish, school or organization can visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/operationstarfish or call 877-654-2960, ext. 6213. Parishes nationwide also participate in Operation Starfish® programs during Lent, vacation Bible study sessions, Christmas in July celebrations, back-to-school fundraisers, and in preparation for Advent.

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. Over the last 10 years, fundraising and other administrative costs averaged less than 5 percent of our expenses; more than 95 percent of all donations went directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Wanda Wright

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6079
wandaw@foodforthepoor.com