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Man sentenced in Ames theft

March 05, 2001

Man sentenced in Ames theft



By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

John Buchanan raises some eyebrows when he tells people he spent a recent week working with poor people in Key West, Fla.

"What many don't realize is that there are only two classes in Key West - the very rich and the very poor," Buchanan said, noting few there could be called middle class.

Both groups are attracted to the area for basically the same reasons: The sun, the warm temperatures and the informal lifestyle.

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The very rich get most of the press while the poor remain just out of camera range, surviving as best they can with help from churches and missions.

"A lot of the poor people in Key West were turned out of institutions and they drifted south to get away from the cold winters in the east," Buchanan said.

Pastor of Living Waters Chapel in Pinesburg for the past 10 years, Buchanan met a man in Florida who challenged him to go to Key West and help. It was a challenge he accepted.

That man was the Rev. Ernie Deloach who heads the Glad Tydings Tabernacle in Key West. He went there after spending 25 years in the Bahamas where he was a missionary for that island group's poor.

Since becoming aware of the scope of the homeless issue, Deloach focuses his attention on trying to improve the situation. It began when a hurricane threatened the Keys several years ago. Deloach made sure his family was safely evacuated and then went back to his church.

More than 380 homeless people packed into the church during the storm. They were fed with the help of a four-burner stove and perishable food donated by a supermarket that had lost its power.

When the hurricane passed, Deloach continued to minister to the homeless, cooking for 200 people a day on the four-burner stove.

"While I was there in late January, Ernie had just gotten a big commercial stove installed," said Buchanan, who spent a week as a volunteer with Deloach's program. "And he had also received 23 tons of free food."

Buchanan came back from Key West inspired to do more for that mission. He has managed to send 2 tons of food there with one phone call. He also ships items such as motel soaps, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste in bulk.

"I'm going back in March of 2002 with a work crew from my church," Buchanan said.

The typical homeless person in Key West is male, 25 to 40 years old with problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, he said.

Some of those who have been helped have gotten jobs or gone into rehabilitation programs for their addictions. But it's a big job because new people arrive every day with nothing to eat and no place to stay.

"It's God love in action," Buchanan said of the mission work.

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