The last in a series of articles on South County groups benefiting from the “Have A Heart Caring Castle” community food drive co-sponsored by JSA Medical Group, WFLA Ch. 8 and The Observer News, The SCC Observer and The Current. The drive runs through Feb. 28.
Life Church’s Pantry has been around for more than a decade, serving 40 to 50 hungry families a month in the Riverview, Tropical Acres, Summerfield, Balm and Wimauma areas.
The pantry helps families with 30-pound food baskets that contain pastas, cereals, lunch meat, soups and spaghetti sauces, among other staples. Food baskets can also include shampoo, razors and diapers.
The pantry passes out food on the third Saturday of every month but also after weekly church services.
“We have built a relationship with a lot of the families we serve,” said pantry manager Donna Witsell. “There’s purpose for that. So, if they have a neighbor in need, they will feel free to invite other people who will know they are welcomed and not just [be] a number we throw a box out to.”
Witsell is grateful the Caring Castle food drive will help her fill the shelves this month.
“It’s a blessing to us to be able to give out more to the community,” she said. “We are here to help people meet some basic needs and relax a little bit. It’s hard times for everybody, so when a kid can have a can or box of food to open up when the cabinet [might otherwise be empty], well, that is what we do.
“People sometimes think we have all this food and it’s just a matter of dividing it up, but it doesn’t always work that way. Things actually got very slim at the Feeding America Food Bank just before the holidays, and that is a national organization,” she said.
The need outweighs what the Life Church Pantry can provide for, Witsell believes. “We have families that come in that have six to nine people in their household, and what we provide for them, 30 pounds of food, does not go very far.”
For more information on Life Church, call 813-672-0810.
The Have a Heart Caring Castle food drive is coming to a close, and we’d like to exceed last year’s donations! WE NEED YOUR HELP! There are many hungry families in South County, including some demographics that may surprise you.
What, where to donate
Donations of canned food and nonperishable food stuffs are welcome again this year at the “Have a Heart Caring Castle.” Donations of diapers, personal hygiene products and paper products are being sought this year for the first time; they will go to the Mary & Martha House.
Drop off donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at JSA Activity Center, 787 Cortaro Drive, Sun City Center; or seven days a week at the Winn-Dixie Supermarket, 4445 Sun City Center Blvd.