EAST MANATEE — Charles Young swayed in a bucket 40 feet in the air. He had a commanding view of traffic on State Road 70, while motorists down below in a parking lot honked and shouted greetings up at him.
Maybe it wasn’t the most comfortable place for someone who is nervous about heights.
But it was the best way that Young and members of Bayside Community Church could think of to collect backpacks for children who will soon be returning to school.
Young agreed to spend store hours in a cherry picker — 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday — at the Chick-fil-A, 5206 73rd Lane E., until he collects 1,000 backpacks.
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“I wanted to step outside my comfort zone,” said Young, who serves as high school missions and outreach pastor.
Midway through his first day in the bucket Monday, he had already collected 200 backpacks. He will be very happy if he is able to collect 1,000 backpacks in less than five days.
The backpacks, filled with school supplies, are intended for children who live in Oakridge Apartments, and students who attend PACE Center for Girls and Oneco Elementary School.
Toni Browning, a member of Bayside Community Church, 15800 State Road 64 E., stopped by Monday with several other church members to encourage Young.
Browning said it’s not unusual to see Young go out on a limb, so to speak, in his ministry.
“Charles is pretty crazy,” Browning said.
Madison Bradley and Brittany Kilduff, 17-year-old Lakewood Ranch High School students, also stopped by and pronounced Young’s stint in the bucket “scary.”
Marian Thompson brought her three children by, each with a backpack to contribute.
“It’s a wonderful outreach to the community and much needed,” Thompson said.
Young had warm words for restaurant owners Jonathan and Lisa Ith who allowed him to use their grounds for the benefit. The Iths are also contributing a coupon for a free sandwich to each backpack donor.
Anyone wanting to participate can pick up school supply lists inside Chick-fil-A or can visit www.baysidecommunity.org.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.