Memphis ministry group emphasizes importance of male role models during food drive

Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 9:33 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It was another day for Larry Hunter and his ministry group Touched By an Angel Ministries, where a food drive was held in one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, something Hunter has been doing for over 15 years.

This one was held at the corner of Ketchum and Airways, and on this Father’s Day, Hunter put an added emphasis on the importance of father figures in the fight against violent crime in the city.

“We want to encourage (fathers) to step up,” Hunter said. “If fathers would step up and take control of their family, there won’t be so many young men joining gangs.”

A 2019 report from the Pew Research Center showed that the U.S. has the highest rate of children living in single-parent households in the world.

This is something Memphis sees a lot of, according to recent stats from the U.S. Census Bureau, showing tens-of thousands of households with only one parent present.

At the food drive, Hunter was quick to praise the parents who have to pick up the slack when raising the family alone.

“You know, there are some ladies that are the father and mother at the same time,” Hunter said. “We want to just encourage them. We hear you, we see you, and we’re here for you.”

One mother WMC Action News 5 spoke to was Tangila Jeffries.

This was her first time coming to one of Touched By an Angel’s drives.

Jeffries has five children and told us the father is not present in the home.

“I try to raise my boys to be men, respectable, not gang bangers, robbers. I want them to be like Mr. Larry, you know. Do something. Give back.”

Jeffries is hopeful, however, that her children can draw influence from her steady boyfriend.

“I’m a woman, so I can’t show my boys how to be a man,” the mother of five said. “Only the man can teach a boy how to be a man, so it’s very important to have a very positive male role model.”

With every event that passes, Hunter believes these gestures and his words will have a long-lasting effect on lowering crime in Memphis.

Hunter said “When I go out to the neighborhood, believe it or not, it takes a bite out of crime.”

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