WUFT News

Middleburg Nonprofit Expands to Fight Hunger, Serve More Families

By on March 17th, 2014
Locals wait outside the Agape House at First Baptist Church of Middleburg on Tuesday.

Megan Reeves / WUFT News

Locals wait outside the Agape House at First Baptist Church of Middleburg on Tuesday. Openhanded Ministries, a nonprofit organization that feeds hungry and homeless families with locally provided deer meat, has partnered with the Florida Wildlife Commission and Milk and Honey Farms to expand its mission.

A local man who uses donated deer meat to feed members of the local hungry community is now expanding his mission.

With the help of the Florida Wildlife Commission and Milk and Honey Farms, Chris Davis, founder and president of Openhanded Ministries, has served food to over 500 undernourished families.

Davis, 41, started the nonprofit in 2003 while serving on the wild game committee at his church, First Baptist Church of Middleburg. One day he was approached by Florida Wildlife officers about donating a deer for a committee meeting.

“Once the men showed up in the church, it all sort of snowballed from there,” Davis said.

The officers continued to bring Davis deer they would find – illegally hunted, severely injured or killed in the area. When he asked what to do with the leftovers, the officers told him to be creative.

“They said ‘You can do anything. You can give it away. You can help people. You just can’t sell it,’” Davis said. “We took that as an opportunity to look into how we could help our community, how we could help our neighbors.”

This wasn’t easy on Davis in the beginning.

He would sometimes receive calls at 2 a.m. from FWC officials to pick up deer. He would then have to gut, skin and remove the meat.

“That’s a hard day, getting out of bed to go take care of a deer to help people in your community who have no idea this is even happening,” Davis said.

In addition to cleaning the deer, Davis paid out-of-pocket for the meat [venison] to be processed.

Fortunately, he is no longer alone in his efforts.

Wildlife officers now gut and store the deer in coolers until Davis is able to pick it up. This cuts a substantial amount of time from the cleaning process, leaving only the skinning and meat removal.

Florida Wildlife Official Mike Heath said the ministry has made a great impact in the community.

“We love the fact that there is someone in the area that does this,” he said. “Deer don’t get wasted.”

After hearing about Davis’ mission, Brian Mers, owner of Milk and Honey Farms, offered to process the meat for free.

He said the service not only helps the FWC, but puts the meat where it needs to be.

“He’s helping people, so all around, everybody wins,” Mers said.

And his good deeds have not gone unnoticed.

Davis recalled a time when he showed up late to his daughter’s softball game, wearing jeans covered in deer blood. A teammate’s mother confronted him about arriving late and asked about his attire.

“She asked me what was so important that I would be late, and also if hunting was more important than my daughter’s softball game,” he said. “I explained to her that I was skinning a deer that would be going to the Agape House.”

Davis said she stopped in her tracks and asked, “You’re the guy that does that?”

After he confirmed his role in Openhanded Ministries, the woman told Davis the organization had helped her family and thanked him.

But the food is only a part of the ministry, Davis said.

Meat feeds the stomach, but the gospel feeds the soul – it is for eternity, Davis said. He often refers to Deuteronomy 15, which inspired the ministry’s name, to represent his calling to be giving rather than hard hearted. The chapter commands Christians to lend to the poor and be blessed.

“This is my purpose and passion,” Davis said. “I believe in the gospel and I believe in helping people. I also believe those two things go hand in hand.”

 

 

 


This entry was posted in Business and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Business

Personal liaison Daniel Araque delivers groceries to a Gainesville resident. Lazy Delivery offers delivery from any brick and mortar stores in the area within two hours.

Three Unlikely Business Owners Expand Gainesville Company To Tallahassee

Manuel Zelaya, his brother Daniel and their longtime friend Marc Charbel are in their mid-twenties and co-founders of Lazy Delivery, a business that delivers groceries and other items from physical stores to area residents. They are expanding their business to Tallahassee later this month.


Wendy Newman, co-owner of The Talented Cookie Company, ices an order of cookies decorated to look like limes. The Talented Cookie Company is moving into The Corner next month.

Local Entrepreneurs Unite To Create High Springs Hangout

Two couples combine four businesses to make one large hangout for High Springs. The opening of The Corner is scheduled for next month.


Luke Kemper, the owner of Swamp Head Brewery, shares a laugh over a beer with tactical manager Brandon Nappy. The brewery creates many seasonable beers but has found success from the first original five beers, which are available year round.

Swamp Head Becomes First Solar-Powered Brewery In Florida

Swamp Head Brewery has moved to a new location and installed solar panels, becoming the first solar-powered brewery in Florida. Their goal has always been to become more sustainable, and they have taken other initiatives such as buying land for preservation and aiding in conservation efforts to do so.


IMG_0546

Downtown Development Anchors Palatka Revitalization

The city of Palatka is revitalizing its downtown through several development projects. At its center is the restoration of four vacant buildings that will contain commercial, residential and retail spaces.


Customers shop in the produce section of Lucky's Market.

Lucky’s Market Adds To Continued Restoration of Northwest 13th Street

Lucky’s Market is part of a growing trend of businesses opening along NW 13th Street, showing a push toward commercial restoration of the area. Other companies, retailers and small businesses may follow as a result of a more stable local economy.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments