Pastor Camps Out 50 Feet Above Ground to Collect Backpacks

The South Florida pastor who was hoisted up 50 feet on a cherry picker and vowed to stay aloft until people were inspired to donate 1,000 school backpacks has returned home after spending about 56 hours in air.

On Friday, Pastor T.J. McCormick of Coastal Community Church in Coconut Creek said he collected 750 backpacks and therefore brought the collection total to 1,500 thanks to a matching deal with the non-profit Food for the Poor.

"I don't think I would have lasted another day up there in this South Florida heat, but it was worth it," said McCormick. "It was also a real blessing Food For The Poor stepped in when it did to help us reach our goal."

Since Tuesday, McCormick camped out on the platform of a cherry picker, enduring heavy downpours and scorching heat. McCormick said his staff briefly considered sending him to the hospital because he was suffering from dizzy spells at some point in time.

The nondenominational lead pastor, however, stuck it out and thanks to the help of Food for the Poor was able to return to the ground.

With more than 1,500 backpacks now collected, McCormick's church plans to hand out the bags on Aug. 21 to children in the Collier City neighborhood of Pompano Beach, where roughly 37 percent of families live below the poverty level according to census estimates.

"Broward County has tons of kids who will go to school this year without the supplies necessary to be successful," noted McCormick in the website set up for his backpack campaign.

"Kids can't change the situation that their family finds itself in today, but they do deserve a chance in life and that starts with their education," he added. "If we can help them achieve success in school, then hopefully they can translate that into success in life.

"We believe that begins with giving them the proper supplies in school so they can get the education they need to make their dreams come true."

Included in each backpack will be a number of school supplies including pencils, writing tablets, pencil sharpeners, notebook paper, rulers, scissors, and sanitary supplies.

For those who wish to donate online, Coastal Community Church puts the cost of a backpack full of supplies at $30.

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