The festival gave the food bank more than $30,000 last week.
When school’s out for summer, it can be harder for some kids to get regular meals. The United Food Bank of Plant City always aims to fight that problem and, now with a boost from the Florida Strawberry Festival, that fight just got a whole lot easier.
Festival directors presented UFB director Mary Heysek with a check for $30,875 on July 11 in a small ceremony held in the FSF main office’s front lobby.
“I think we’re in the right direction, and I think it comes under the umbrella of serving the community,” director Dub McGinnes said. “That’s really what the festival does in so many ways. We’re part of the community and we want to give back… we’re so proud of the work you and your staff do at the food bank.”
The donation was made possible with the money raised from the 2019 Strawberry Ball’s ticket sales, auctions and sponsorships. Every single penny went to the food bank, which has been the case for the last three years.
“You’re a fireball,” Festival president Paul Davis told Heysek. “You are really passionate about what you do and I, personally, get really excited when I hear you talking about the differences you make in people’s lives… I think that really goes a long way and makes everybody get up off that wall.”
Davis was quick to commend the sponsors, the ball committee and everyone else who helped make this Strawberry Ball possible for working tirelessly to put on such a successful event on all fronts, from putting together a quality event to getting people excited to give to the food bank.
“It’s a big part of what we do,” Davis said. “The ball was kind of floundering. We all knew it. It had become a chore for people to go to, but I think coming up with a charity has really made it different and everybody really got involved. We’re really excited to be a part of it.”
Heysek said the money will go a long way toward keeping the shelves full of food and drink in its busiest time of the year. As was reported in a June 13, 2019 story in the Plant City Observer, the UFB is giving out roughly 600 bags of food to local families every week this summer and helps numerous students of all ages throughout the year when they need meals, toiletries and other essentials.
“We’re the only food bank serving this area and we have the highest poverty rate in all of the county,” Heysek said.
If you would like to donate any items or funds to UFB, stop by during business hours or call 813-764-0625 for more information.