Idlewild Baptist Church is active in supporting school-related missions throughout Hillsborough County.

Last year was difficult for many families as well as students. As families were struggling, school lunch debts in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties began to accumulate. To help ease that burden, Idlewild Baptist Church stepped in.

“We had a desire to help the community in these tough COVID times with many local families losing jobs or income,” said Staley McNatt, ministry assistant to the executive pastor. “We heard that all students must be debt-free in order to graduate. We did this because of God’s love and forgiveness for us, we want to share God’s love with the students of Hillsborough and Pasco County and assist them in forgiving their lunch debt.”

Because of the generosity of the congregation, Idlewild was able to pay off more than $21,000 to Hillsborough County juniors and seniors’ lunch debt and $17,000 to Pasco County students’ lunch debt.

“Our congregation consistently gives towards local missions this year and every year,” said McNatt. “We praise God for our members’ generosity. We believe being generous with God’s love is a source of hope for many in our community.”

The school superintendents for both counties were overwhelmed by the generous donation.

“This act of kindness from Idlewild comes at a time when many of our families need additional support to help make ends meet,” said Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis. “We deeply appreciate faith-based community partners like Idlewild whose dedication and generosity provide critical support and hope for families across Hillsborough County.”

Idlewild Baptist Church continues to support local missions throughout the year, including creating butterfly gardens at Miles Elementary and hosting vet clinic missions at the church at the end of March. The church, originally founded in 1934, is one of Florida’s largest churches, sitting on a 42-acre site with a 440,000-square-foot worship center that can accommodate more than 5,000 people.

The church is located at 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd. in Lutz. To find out more about any upcoming events, visit, follow it on Facebook or call the church office at 264-8706.

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.