College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving and the United Food Bank of Plant City team up to help Plant City residents in need.
One person’s junk may be another person’s necessity.
That’s what Trent Lott, owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, believes. Lott’s business has partnered with the United Food Bank of Plant City to help with food, furniture and other wares, but the groups want the rest of Plant City to get on board.
“I’m just trying to get the community a little more behind it,” Lott said. “I wanted to make something our company could do to help out, make something more grassroots rather than just saying, ‘Our company donates to a certain national charity,’ or something.”
Having known United Food Bank executive director Mary Heysek for much of his life, the partnership was a natural fit for Lott. It began when Lott realized that much of the food his customers would dispose of during a move, as well as some of the furniture and kitchenware they were getting rid of, were usable and even in good condition.
“They pay us to haul it away,” Lott said. “I know we say we’re ‘hauling junk’ but, if we can, we’d like that ‘junk’ to be repurposed.”
It came at a good time for the food bank, which Heysek is structuring to do more than just provide food for people in need.
“We’re going from our clients coming in just wanting food to them telling us their entire story without us even having to ask,” operations manager Angelica Conrad said. “We realize that they have so many other problems or obstacles that they face in their life.”
In some of these cases, clients may not be able to afford furniture, cleaning supplies or other household items of need. The food bank is able to fulfill those needs through help from donors such as Lott, which helps these people furnish their homes and get back on their feet after periods of low income, or even homelessness.
“Most of our clients are the ‘working poor,’” Heysek said. “They’re working, but they just don’t have enough to make ends meet, so they’re food insecure. They’re one medical bill away from disaster.”
On average, Heysek said the food bank serves 1,000 families — 3,500 people — each month. She said the food bank gave away over 1 million pounds of food last year, but that there are still times when donations aren’t coming in as frequently as around Thanksgiving and Christmas. In times like the summer months, a little extra help can go a long way.
Lott’s goal is to get other local businesses and people invested in the cause. He’s working on the idea of “Food Bank Fridays,” where entities are encouraged to round up goods throughout the week and drop off donations on Fridays. As a coach on Plant City High School’s tennis and soccer staffs, Lott is also working to get PCHS athletes involved by creating volunteer work for them at the food bank.
His promotional efforts are also expanding into community events. Most recently, Rise Plant City — of which Lott is a member — held a dodgeball tournament on June 10 to benefit the food bank through food and item donations. Spectators who brought donations to the tournament received a discount on the ticket price.
Lott hopes that, in time, the food bank can see hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of food donated on Fridays.
“It’s a necessity for (people) to have these items,” he said.