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Seminole Heights Food Pantry Holds Fundraiser After Volunteer Is Killed

Residents of the Seminole Heights community in Tampa collected canned food and donations Saturday after a man was gunned down while volunteering at a local food pantry.

Ronald Felton, 60, was walking around New Season Apostolic Ministriesnear Nebraska Avenue and Caracas Street when he was shot dead. Police believe Felton's death was connected to three serial murders that took place in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in October.

People from across Tampa packed into the parking lot of the church to make donations in honor of Felton.

Isaiah Osborne, a deacon at the ministries, said Felton was the type of volunteer to show up early and leave late. In fact, he said Felton had arrived early on Tuesday to prepare the pantry for service when he was murdered.

"He left a legacy of hard work," Osbourne said. "He didn't let not having a vehicle stop him. He would take the bus. He had a bicycle, he rode his bicycle. He didn't let what he didn't have stop him from giving to people who don't have."

Felton's dedication to the food pantry has inspired others.

East Tampa resident Maurice Horne walked up to the food pantry Saturday afternoon with a grocery bag full of canned goods in each hand.

"What unfortunately happened to [Felton] opened up my heart to say 'Well, let me go make a donation,'" Horne said.

Stan Lasater, president of the South East Seminole Heights Civic Association, organized the food drive. He said Felton's death and the recent string of murders in Seminole Heights have resulted in a new-found resilience and comradery among residents.

"Since this has happened the entire Seminole Heights community has rallied," Lancaster said. "They have come out and we have a list a mile long of people wanting to help. They want to make a difference, they want to do something."

The food pantry at New Season Apostolic Ministries will continue to open it's doors every Tuesday and Friday at 7:30 a.m. Church officials said they would be cautious, but not scared.

"There's still a need in the community," Osbourne said. "People are still going to be in need of food, perishables and clothing, so we are going to be here to help them in any way that we can."

The South East Seminole Heights Civic Association will continue to take monetary donations for the food pantry at: SESeminoleHeights.org.

Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.