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Former VP Mike Pence visits Fort Myers Beach during special Thanksgiving meal

Posted at 10:23 PM, Nov 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-25 05:55:30-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — On this Thanksgiving Day, a few residents were offered a small slice of normalcy.

That normalcy being offered through a Thanksgiving meal, hosted by the Beach Baptist Church. And some encouraging words shared by a certain guest in attendance.

“We literally started digging tables and chairs out of debris piles, getting them cleaned off and here we are!” said Shawn Critser, Pastor of Beach Baptist Church.

‘Here’ is the Beach Baptist Church off Estero Boulevard. Where remnants of Hurricane Ian are scattered all around.

“Just make them feel at home," says Shannell Wolff, with Casting Lots Ministries. "A little normalcy is big in a torn up world.”

A small slice of normalcy being offered with a hot meal.

"Our private vendor who’s been helping us cook meals everyday, twice a day for three weeks said let’s do Thanksgiving so this is what we got!” said Critser.

What they’ve got are dozens of Fort Myers Beach residents, sitting side by side, gathered over a Thanksgiving Day meal.

"Honestly, we’ve been saying let’s cook for 200, we never actually thought it’d be that many people," Critser said. "And yet we went way over it.”

With the exception of a special guest- former Vice President Mike Pence.

"It’s a privilege for Karen and I to be here in Southwest Florida," said Pence.

The former vice president touring the church with his wife seeing Ian’s damage first hand.

"We thought there’d be no better place to be on Thanksgiving Day than here encouraging people who’ve been through so much over the last two months since Hurricane Ian came ashore, but have shown a resilience and a faith and a generosity that you see in this gathering today.”

A day that has some feeling a little more thankful than the day before.

"Thankful for the fact that we can be thankful everyday," said Critser. "That’s what we want to be today- thankful for everyday.”

Said Pence, “I know the best days for this region lie ahead and will once again be an extraordinary place that recovers from this very difficult time.”