Food drive benefitting local pantries hoping for bumper year

By KEVIN BRADY

The Lord’s Lighthouse food pantry is one of the local groups benefitting from the drive.

The Lord’s Lighthouse food pantry is one of the local groups benefitting from the drive.

Organizers of the Have a Heart Caring Castle community-wide food drive, now in its third year benefitting local pantries, are hoping to exceed the 2015 total by at least 50 percent.

With new drop-off locations, including a second Winn-Dixie store, donors will have no shortage of places to drop off canned goods and other items.

The food drive begins Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 29. Donations can be dropped off at two JSA Medical locations, 787 Cortaro Drive and 781 Cypress Creek Blvd., both in Sun City Center, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donation bins will also be out at two Winn-Dixie stores, 4445 Sun City Center Blvd. and 1023 U.S. 41 in Ruskin.

“If we can get 5,000 pounds [in donations], I will be thrilled to pieces,” said Roseanne Korfant of Sun City Center’s JSA Medical Group, who launched the food drive in 2014 in partnership with M&M Printing, the parent company of this newspaper. Also backing the food drive are News Channel 8 and Home Depot.

“We have seven very dedicated food pantries this year, and I know the more we can help them, the more they can help the community,” said Korfant.

Local food banks benefitting from the food drive are: The Lord’s Lighthouse, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Good Samaritan Mission, Beth-El Mission, St. Anne Church, Calvary Lutheran Community Cupboard and RiverStone Church.

Have-a-Heart-Castle-onlyWhile charitable donation is at the forefront around Christmas, it’s the ensuing months when food banks can use the help, Korfant said. “At Christmas, everyone has their baskets and tubs out to help and that is wonderful, but people are hungry all year long.”

RiverStone Church, a new pantry on the list this year in Gibstonton, will use donations to help the more than 100 families it serves in the Riverview and Gibsonton area.

“We have people come from all around,” said Billie Carr, who has been running the pantry for four years. The pantry serves mostly an elderly population, Carr said. “We have a good mix of people but we have our regulars, and a lot of them are on a fixed income, and they will tell you if it was not for the bag of food, they would have to pick between food or purchasing medication or paying their electric bill.”

“I know our other [Winn-Dixie] store in Sun City Center participated last year, and they thought it was a good program so we thought this would be good for us to participate in,” said Robert McDaris, manager of the Ruskin Winn-Dixie store on U.S. 41, which will be accepting donations for the first time this year.

Last year’s food drive brought in 3,600 pounds of donations, exceeding the 2014 total by 1,000 pounds. “Our first year was a good success. The second year was a great success. I am hoping this year is a stupendous success,” Korfant said.

CARING-CASTLE-PICPutting their own unique twist on the drive, organizers build a castle using canned goods and other non-perishable foodstuffs for bricks as donations arrive at JSA Medical’s Sun City Center office. The castle is redesigned and rebuilt weekly as donations roll in. You can follow the progress of the castle and donate at the JSA Activity Center, 787 Cortaro Drive, Sun City Center.

For more information, call Rosie Korfant at 813-419-5020 or email r.korfant@jsahealthcare.com.

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