Wayne Purvis’ presence will be strongly felt at this year’s Meals of Hope Marco Island thanks to a special group of his golfing buddies from the Island Country Club.
Known as “F-Troop,” those friends have donated $20,150 in his memory to the 2020 edition of the annual charitable effort which sees volunteers’ package and distribute fortified meals to the needy in time for Thanksgiving.
Marco Island Meals of Hope Chairman Bill Morris announced in August that the 2020 fundraising and packaging would be dedicated to Purvis’ memory. The longtime Marco resident, who passed away in March, was responsible for bringing Naples-based nonprofit Meals of Hope to the island in 2010.
“Since Wayne was the godfather of bringing it to Marco, we thought it was only fitting that this year’s event and fundraising be in his memory,” said Morris. “He was a great guy and because he started this, we thought it was really appropriate to dedicate this year to him.”
F-Troop borrows its name from the late 1960s TV comedy that satirized life on a U.S. Army post in the West. Rene Champagne said that when he and his fellow members of the roughly 50-member, the informal group learned of the decision to honor Purvis, they sprang into action.
“It’s a very community-oriented group that not only enjoys playing golf, but really takes a lot of time to support local charities and organizations, being on boards and committees, taking part in fundraising events,” he explained. “We raise a lot of money for different organizations. Wayne was a member of F-Troop for many years, so we wanted to jump in and help with the fundraising, which we understood is going through some trying times because of COVID where you can’t have the kind fundraising activities that you normally would.”
The donation will buy more than 100,000 meals for needy families.
Marco Island Meals of Hope raises funds year-round to buy the food and materials needed for the annual packaging event, which is set for November 21st. Marco Island Charter Middle School is the traditional site, but due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for safe distancing during the pandemic, this year’s event will be held outdoors at either the Centers for Disease Control or Veterans Park.
Purvis and his wife, Susan, moved to Marco in 2006 from Illinois after they retired. During his professional career, he served as the president of Anglo Marine and Petroleum Equipment, an oil field equipment company in Shreveport, La., and as the executive president of sales and marketing for EGS Electrical Group in Chicago.
Susan Purvis said that after retiring, her late husband took one year off to recharge his batteries after a long work career.
“But then he wanted to get involved because he got bored, so he joined Rotary,” she said. “Because he wanted to do a lot of things, he was looking for something that would feed the needy people in Collier County.”
That desire found an outlet in 2010 when Wayne Purvis met Steve Popper, a Naples Rotarian and the founder, president-CEO of Meals of Hope.
“They met and talked about and they were able to get a packaging event set up here on Marco,” continued Susan Purvis. “Wayne and Steve ran it. It was held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. They only did about 5,000 meals that first year.”
After several years of leading the effort, Wayne Purvis passed the mantle onto Neil Snyder, who preceded Morris as chairman. Over time, the number of volunteer meal packers grew to the point a larger venue was needed for the event; and that venue was the MICMS gym
Time has also seen Meals of Hope on Marco Island become what Morris called “a triumvirate event” that is put on by the Marco Island Kiwanis Club, the Marco Island Rotary Sunrise Club the Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club.
“It truly is one of those events where many hands make light work,” said Morris. “We have hundreds of volunteers. All of them do a little piece, but you put all those little pieces together and it’s a huge deal.”
Susan Purvis said she feels overwhelmed, pleased and proud in the face of the accolades her late husband has received since his passing.
“I know he would be proud and humbled,” she added. “And to know that the F-Troop has been so generous with its donations to Meals of Hope; this just brings tears to my eyes. These guys are just incredible and Wayne was very proud to be part of that group.”
F-Troop has also memorialized Wayne Purvis by planting one of his favorite trees, a magnolia, in his memory on the Island Country Club golf course.
“We’re very pleased to honor him in that manner,” said Champagne. “Wayne was just a fantastic supporter of the island. There were things important to Wayne in his life. One was a family, he loved the country, he loved Marco Island and was trying to do anything and everything to help the island grow and prosper.”
For more information about Meals of Hope Marco Island and its annual pre-Thanksgiving food packaging event, or to volunteer or donate, visit mohmi.org.