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HomeAt Home & BeyondMonth-long food drive to benefit five local nonprofits

Month-long food drive to benefit five local nonprofits

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A single food drive is benefitting at least five local nonprofits. During the month of October, United Way of Hernando County is hosting their Third Annual “Give Thanks, Give Food” community food drive. This event is a county-wide effort that benefits five local food pantries and shelters in Hernando County; these organizations are the Dawn Center’s Domestic Violence Shelter, St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Pantry, People Helping People’s Weekend Blessings program, Youth & Family Alternatives New Beginning’s Youth Shelter, and Mid Florida Homeless Coalition’s outreach efforts.

The non-perishable food donations that are collected through this effort will be sorted, packed, and distributed to the five agencies the week before Thanksgiving as a part of United Way’s month-long “5 Days of Caring” in November.

Last year’s “Give Thanks Give Food” community food drive distributed more than 5,500 lbs of food to five organizations, including 1,450 cans of soup, 327 lbs in pasta, and approximately $700 worth of peanut butter. “For our teams and partners across the county, unfortunately, working with a resident who has limited access to food or hasn’t eaten since yesterday is all too common,” said Angie B. Walasek, executive director/CEO of United Way of Hernando County. “The ripple effects of the pandemic, such as inflation, tapping into the little bit of savings that were left, and not being able to pay rent on time, are unfortunately still very real for our local communities. What we’ve seen is that many are utilizing our pantries now more than ever, supplementing the cost of food for other basic necessities.”

“It’s important that we continue to empathize, ask the right questions, and help those residents with direct needs. That’s exactly what a county-wide food drive can do for many,” said Walasek. “This non-perishable food drive effort, and our pantries and shelters, does not just benefit our homeless populations – it employs individuals who are struggling.”

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Tim Rumptz, food pantry supervisor of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, feels that benefits such as this one are crucial in these tough times. “It’s natural for all of us to find ways we think our neighbors might improve their own situations,” said Rumptz. “But over the years that I’ve spoken with so many local families in need, I can honestly say everyone is already carrying their own heavy load. We are so grateful for the partnership in helping reach those in need in Hernando.”

Shannon Sokolowski, executive director of Dawn Center, is honored to be affiliated with the “Give Thanks, Give Food” community food drive. “United Way’s ‘Give Thanks, Give Food’ drive is a wonderful collaborative effort in Hernando County which ensures that food pantries and shelters, like Dawn Center, have sufficient food to get through the holidays,” she explained. “Dawn Center’s shelter is home to 40 adults and children and we are typically full during the holidays. With children out of school often near the end of the year, our food reserves are stretched thinnest when we need it the most. The ‘Give Thanks, Give Food’ drive is a welcome influx of food at just the right time for us to start the holiday season on the best footing. We appreciate the support of the community and the partnership of United Way of Hernando County. It is an honor to be selected as a recipient of this generosity.”

The most needed non-perishables for the “Give Thanks, Give Food” community food drive, preferably easy to open items such as pouched food and pop-top cans, include:
Boxed Potatoes
Canned Beans
Canned Fruit, Meat, & Veggies
Dry Milk
Granola Bars
Mac & Cheese
Olive Oil
Pasta & Sauce
Peanut Butter
Soup Broths
Soups & Stews
Tomato Sauce

Unopened and unexpired food items, as well as hand-held can openers, can be dropped off to the United Way of Hernando County office (4028 Commercial Way) Monday-Friday between 9:30am- 4:30pm. A special thank you to participating locations that will be hosting internal food drives throughout October (as of 9/30/22):
Bravera Health Brooksville
Bravera Health Spring Hill
Early Learning Coalition Pasco Hernando
Hernando County Detention Center
Hernando County Libraries (4)
Hernando Public Works
Hernando County Sheriff’s Office
HCSO District 1
HCSO District 2
HCSO Community Policing Department

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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