A simple plan to help our neighbors

Published on: November 30, 2017

On the day before Thanksgiving, volunteer Michelle Traphagen and Pastor William Cruz of Good Samaritan Mission hold approximately 50 pounds of food, including a fresh turkey, along with a card containing a small gift and a $50 gift certificate. At The Observer News, we wanted to give thanks for our own blessings by helping another family count theirs. Ana’s Restaurant in Wimauma was kind enough to store and help prepare the Thanksgiving feast.


This is not a story of self-promotion, although it does involve the promotion of an idea. The newsroom staff for The Observer News publications is made up of only a handful of highly dedicated and caring people. Before Thanksgiving, it was decided this small group would chip in to make Thanksgiving brighter (and hopefully easier) for a family in need.

To find that family, we turned to Pastor William Cruz of Good Samaritan Mission.

“I have just the right family for you,” Pastor Cruz responded. “She is a single mother with three children, ages 12, 10, and 1. She is a  hard worker, but has trouble making ends meet. I did not ask her, since she is humble enough that she would suggest that the aid go to another family who is needier than she.”

It turned out that she is also a wonderful young woman. We also chose the right person to help in Pastor Cruz. He has helped thousands of families through Good Samaritan Mission, primarily by helping struggling and impoverished families to help themselves.

In the newsroom, our objective was to simply help a family at Thanksgiving. Why publicize it? Because there are many small businesses and organizations in South Hillsborough and North Manatee — and if all decided to help just one family, the impact would be enormous and entirely positive for both those who give and those who receive. As one newsroom staffer said, “It felt good just signing the card.”

It is not so much helping the “least among us,” it is helping our neighbors.

The Christmas season can be a stressful time for parents struggling to simply put food on the table. There are few neighborhoods that are entirely immune to poverty — it is not restricted to Wimauma. Even in Sun City Center, food security problems — where meals can be missed over choices of medication or utility bills — are reported to be on the rise.

If you, your organization or company could help just one family or reach out to one senior, you have taken a step to change the world. That is not an exaggeration. This holiday season, let’s change the world for the better.

For more information about Good Samaritan Mission visit or email