The Southeastern Food Bank warehouse in Ocoee was buzzing with activity Saturday, Nov. 19, as dozens of volunteers took turns filling boxes with food and ingredients to prepare meals for this week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
The program has been in operation for 31 years and can only continue with the support of donors and volunteers.
Foundation Academy brought several sports teams and their families to participate in the food packing. Christie Thompson, coach of the FA girls weightlifting squad, said she likes to show students the benefits of giving back in the community. She has taken teams to pack food boxes in the past with other organizations too.
“This is something that brings us together as a team,” Thompson said. “I want to expose the students to giving. Acts of service, as Christian believers, is really important.”
Several other Foundation teams were present, including middle school girls soccer students and their coach, Lauren Kari, and varsity soccer coach James Grosshans and his players.
Foundation freshman Elena Friedman has been volunteering with Food For Families for several years.
“I just love being able to help others, and I love being able to help out in the community,” she said. “It always gives me such fulfillment. … It just makes you feel so good to know that you’re helping others and you get to show them you love them and if they fall you’ve got their back.
“I love to see how many people just want to get back out into the community and how many people just want to show their love with everyone,” Friedman said.
Other volunteers Saturday represented a volleyball team from Apopka as well as Walt Disney World VoluntEars.
Folks volunteering their time Saturday packed 31 pallets of food, consisting of 1,302 boxes. Other volunteers working the previous two Saturdays sorted 70,000 pounds of mixed items donated by Publix Supermarkets.
The food handled Saturday and previously sorted included 3,300 pounds donated by staff and students at Whispering Oak Elementary School.
The boxes, along with toilet paper donated by CVS Pharmacy and baked goods donated by the Florida Baptist Children's Home, will be delivered Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, Nov. 24, by volunteers to preselected families in West Orange County.
Drivers are needed to deliver the food from 8 to 10:30 a.m. To sign up, visit bit.ly/3UR0qZW.
The Southeastern Food Bank is a nonprofit organization that has helped tens of thousands of needy people in the past 31 years. This Christian ministry provides free food and personal care products in more than 25 Florida counties, including Orange. Southeastern Food Bank annually distributes millions of pounds of free food and goods.
For information on the program or upcoming opportunities to volunteer, visit southeasternfoodbank.com. The Food For Families program also operates during the Easter and Christmas holidays.