By LOIS KINDLE
Members of the South Shore Falls Bicycle Club recently conducted a food drive within their community and ended up with 1.5 tons of food and more than $5,000.
Tim Jackson, the bike club’s president, coordinated the effort, which took place May 6.
“A South Shore Falls Board member suggested we do a food drive, and I talked with my members,” he said. “Since so many of them volunteer at the St. Anne Food Pantry, we decided to make it the beneficiary.
“I used to work for the post office in Rochester, N.Y., where I coordinated its annual food drive,” he continued. “So we split (volunteer members) into five groups, with a truck or van for each one, and people either met us at the end of their driveways or left food there.”
Jackson said about 40 of the club’s 60ish members participated.
By the time they finished, 3,000 pounds of food had been collected and a boatload of cash donations.
“We thought we might get around $1,000,” said Jackson, who was amazed by the community’s response. “We ended up with about $5,700.
“I really want to thank the community for its generosity,” Jackson added. “It far exceeded our expectations.
South Shore Falls resident Ira Steinman, who is temporarily running the St. Anne Food Pantry with the help of Larry Orlowski and Christine Pugliese, was on the receiving end of the drive.
He, too, was amazed at the community’s generosity.
“It was overwhelming,” he said. “The residents of [South Shore Falls] are very giving people.”
Steinman said St. Anne Food Pantry currently feeds 300 to 400 families per week, with each family receiving about 60 pounds of food. Its mission is to help sustain South Shore’s homeless and less fortunate, and it presently has more than 500 families registered for its program.
The all-volunteer pantry, which is open from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, provides nonperishable groceries, vegetables, fruit and pastries from local grocery stores, Feeding Tampa Bay, 7 Eleven stores, Gulley’s and the VFW. Orlowski and Steinman spend 10 to 12 hours per week picking up donations from these sources.
On average, 20 to 25 people volunteer there each week, and 50 percent of them live in South Shore Falls, Steinman said.
The Rev. John McAvoy, pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church, appreciated South Shore Falls and its bicycle club.
“Even in the current pandemic, this shows people still care for one another,” said the Rev. John McAvoy adding many of the residents of South Shore Falls are parishioners of the church. “It shows we still have compassion for the poor and unfortunate in our community.”
He also extended his appreciation to all of the St. Anne Food Pantry volunteers.