Some couples run together, and others choose to garden or travel.
One Alachua County couple bonds over a unique mission to feed more than one hundred local families a month.
Bonnie and Doug Hummel work seven days a week picking up food donations and delivering items to those who need it most.
“My husband understands my heart beat and I think God has given him the same heart beat,” Bonnie Hummel said. “He cares for people…He loves people. He’ll go out at midnight if somebody says they’re hungry.”
Doug Hummel picks up food donations from local super markets and food banks every week. Eggs, bread, and peanut butter are staple items. The couple delivers items to as many as 15 families a day. Deliveries are made all over the county including areas where drug abuse and violence are prevalent.
For Doug Hummel, every delivery is an emotional one.
“It makes me speechless just to think about it; especially families with kids. Parents made the decision to put them in that situation,” he said. “Anytime there’s children involved, we usually drop everything and go.”
Communities with drug abuse and violence isn’t enough to scare the couple away.
“Pine Ridge is probably one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Gainesville because of a lot of drug activity. There have been some murders committed out there,” Doug Hummel said. “I feel they won’t hurt us because we’re trying to help them.”
The couple said eye-opening examples of hunger are present throughout Alachua County.
“The worst one I’ve seen recently was an elderly lady who told us all she had was ketchup and mustard…and she had been sipping on it so she wouldn’t have an empty stomach… that broke my heart,” Bonnie Hummel said. “In America that should never be (the case).”
According to Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, there are more than 1,300 men, women and children in the county who face nights without food or a home.
The couple spends about $800 a month on food to aid families and $600 on gas for deliveries. Donations help subsidize costs but a large portion comes from their personal retirement fund. Despite the challenges, Bonnie Hummel doesn’t lose sight of her mission to serve.
“There’s expenses, but I don’t worry about it because God has never failed us yet,” Bonnie Hummel said. “And he’s not going to start now.”
This movement has helped thousands of people during the last few years, including Carl Justice, who at one point found himself in financial hardship and in need of food. Now Carl finds himself at the Hummel’s home every week to help sort goods to prepare for the couple’s deliveries. He said they’re to thank for a new outlook on life.
“I was really getting a bad taste for humanity,” Justice said. “But working with Miss Bonnie has really helped my life out.”
Some people take advantage of their service but Bonnie Hummel said she isn’t one to judge.
“If I feel a family is taking advantage, I don’t refuse them food. I just don’t give them as much as a family that I’m sure is really in need,” Bonnie Hummel said. “There are going to be times we are going to be taken advantage of, but my theory on this is: nothing I own is mine. It belongs to God. If somebody abuses it; God will take care of it — it’s his ministry.”
Doug Hummel said his love for people and for his wife inspire him to help fulfill her dream of feeding people in need.
“My wife is the energy behind the whole deal. I’m just supporting her with her ideas,”Doug said.
Bonnie and Doug are listed on the United Way Help Line. Their number is available for anyone in need of food.
The couple named their mission “Feed My Sheep,” after an answered prayer.
“God gave me the name of this mission. I was praying, ‘Lord, you did not ordain me to do nothing. What should I do? And I heard ‘Feed my sheep,” Bonnie said. “And that’s what we’ve been doing for the past three years.”