Members of United Way Suncoast and CareerSource Tampa Bay visited the food bank last week to put together hundreds of food packs for local kids.
Thanks to an assist from United Way Suncoast and CareerSource Tampa Bay, hundreds of Plant City-area kids won’t have to go hungry over the weekend.
Members of the two organizations used their lunch break time on April 21 to visit the United Food Bank of Plant City and help UFBPC staff assemble “weekend bags” for students. The team blew past its goal of 400 bags — one week’s worth — and ended up making more than double what they initially set out to do in about an hour and a half.
“This energetic and hardworking group made 816 bags that will help feed local students on the weekends when they do not have access to free/reduced meals through our Weekend Backpack Program,” the food bank said in an April 22 Facebook post.
These weekend bags are given to students in Plant City schools to take home over the weekend and contain enough food for two meals, a snack and a juice box to last two days. The bags include two packets of ramen, two oatmeal packets or granola bars, two juice boxes and two snack packets of fruit snacks or crackers. The bags are delivered to students discreetly.
The volunteer effort came during United Way Suncoast’s annual Week of Caring event, in which the organization ramps up its volunteer efforts throughout its five-county network and tackles specific projects. Ernest Hooper, UWS Vice President of Communications, said this year’s Week of Caring featured 120 projects that were assisted with by corporate partners and community volunteers.
“Everybody’s doing this on our lunch break and everybody’s having a good time,” Jonathan Terry, UWS Corporate and Community Engagement Manager, said. “The energy is high and we’re gonna try to knock out as much work as we can… this energy is good and what (UFBPC) is doing is a really great cause for the community and for our kids.”
That’s where CareerSource came in. The group is no stranger to working with both the food bank and UWS, so joining forces for that Wednesday volunteering project was a no-brainer. CareerSource works with UFBPC annually in the form of a program that places an intern in the food bank to help the food bank do its thing and to help the intern get the experience and hours they need. The organization also works with UWS in CareerSource’s Summer Job Program for people age 16-24.
Though the team of four volunteers was small, its work that Wednesday was mighty for the community.
“They have been amazing,” Gayle Tindle, Operations Manager for the UFB, said. “Our goal was to do one week’s worth… they are serious workers. The last time we had this competitive spirit was when the (Tampa Bay) Vipers were here. It’s the same energy.”