Plant a Seed, Grow a Pantry: An Introduction to Celebration34747Cares Inc.
In December 2010, a couple of Celebration residents met for the first time at a community function. They discussed the need for a food pantry at Celebration K-8 School. A seed was planted.
In March, 2011 a CBS 60 Minutes segment, titled “Homeless Children: The Hard Times Generation” touched hearts in Central Florida.
Watch the Video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7358670n
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley reported that “…. along U.S. 192, 67 motels house about 500 homeless kids….” These children are our neighbors here in Celebration, Florida, a town Disney built; they are hungry and many of them started attending Celebration K-8 School in the fall, making the need for a food pantry even more apparent.
Before the 2011 school summer vacation began, Celebration residents Robert Schwartz, Barbara and George Moran along with Kathy Marshall planned to serve at a free lunch program through Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Thanks to instrumental work by Tom Brannigan, founder of the Green Bag Project (a 501(c)(3) organization) and Second Harvest Food Bank, the Celebration residents were able to serve free lunches all summer to hungry children living in motels on a small portion of U.S. 192. Federally funded, and administered by Second Harvest, this free summer lunch site grew to serving up to 80 children daily. Most of these children attended the K-8 school. Serving lunches to the kids opened the door for friendships to grow and allowed for further discussion to develop a food pantry.
In a short time, with continued support from our community, the Green Bag Project, and others, Celebration34747Cares has grown into a fully functioning food pantry. The pantry serves the children by supplying weekend food packs containing non-perishable food. Assembled and delivered to the children as they get on the bus on Thursday afternoons, the weekend food packs contain two days worth of food and are given to the children every week. Every child receives a food pack. We currently provide 194 food packs to children in three schools each week - Celebration K-8, Flora Ridge Elementary and Reedy Creek Elementary.
Staffed by volunteers, the pantry depends on and is sustained by financial gifts and food donations. The pantry also relies on volunteers who assist with food pack assembly and food pack distribution.
It costs $970 every week to stock the pantry. To help fund the pantry, tax-deductible contributions can be sent to Celebration34747Cares, PO Box 470893, Celebration, FL, 34747; or donate on this web site using Pay Pal. A $20.00 gift provides 4 food packs. The pantry is staffed by volunteers and has no overhead expense. All funding received is used to purchase food and provide emergency assistance.
Celebration34747Cares is thankful for early partners already helping to sustain the pantry and feed the children. Early partners included Town Hall, Parks and Recreation, The Celebration Foundation, Front Street Family Dentistry, The Crossing Church, Community Presbyterian Church, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Corpus Christi Catholic Church, the Green Bag Project, Celebration Community Church, The Rock Church, Walmart, Darden Restaurants, and other businesses and organizations of good will. Many individuals also have given time, financial gifts or food for the pantry. Its mission statement, “Celebration volunteers caring for children in need by providing food, faith and hope”, reflects Celebration’s cornerstone of Community. In a climate of economic uncertainty, we need each other to survive. We thank the residents and businesses in Celebration and central Florida for caring and for their generous hearts.
Suggested Non-Perishable Food Items to donate for Weekend Food Packs
18 oz. jar peanut butter
Ramen style noodles, beef or chicken flavor
Canned Soup, Tomato or Chicken Noodle
18 oz. jar of grape jelly
6-pack of applesauce
Macaroni and Cheese
Instant Oatmeal packets
Canned beef item
Granola type snack bars or equivalent
Or make a donation.