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Debbie and Chico Jimenez have been offering food to the homeless in Florida for over a year. Last week in Daytona Beach however, they were hit with hefty fines for their actions.
According to NBC News, the Jimenezes are part of a Christian outreach group called Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word Ministry. They make home cooked meals to distribute to some 100 people per week.
However, when they went with other volunteers to pass out meals in Manatee Island Park last week, police officers issued them over $300 each in fines and forbade them to return to the area.
“The worst thing is, these are people we have grown to love, they’ve become like family to us, and now we’re not allowed to go down and do that anymore,” said Debbie Jimenez. “It’s just heartbreaking. I have cried and cried and cried.”
Inquisitr reports that Daytona Beach Police Chief, Mike Chitwood had previously warned the couple that another visit could lead to some repercussions.
“We have an ordinance that says when people want to perform acts of kindness or charity that they must coordinate with our local social service agencies,” said Chitwood to the press, reports the local News-Journal Online.
Daytona Beach, along with a growing number of areas in the United States, has such “no-feeding” laws meant to guide homeless people away from busy public areas and toward proper shelters.
The Jimenezes plan to fight their fines in court.