“Just a word of thanks to the many people who have been supporting Our Lady's Pantry from its beginnings in the vestibule of Our Lady of Quadalupe Mission, back in 1999,” says Tom Bullaro, co-director of the Pantry along with his wife Anita. According to Bullaro, the number of families receiving food has soared from about 25 families a week in the beginning, to well over 200 today.Anita and Tom Bullaro, co-directors of Our Lady's Pantry.
“We would never have been able to meet this increased need were it not for the striking generosity of this community,” says Bullaro. “We have so many people to thank, starting with countless individuals who just send a check or drop off bags of food for our neighbors in need.
We also receive periodic grants from a number of local organizations including the Community Foundation of Sun City Center and the Interfaith Council (the Nearly New Shop), both of which have been major supporters of Our Lady's Pantry for years."
In fact, back in 2010, the Interfaith Council donated the truck that the Pantry uses to collect groceries from Feeding America. That made a huge difference in how much food Bullaro and Pantry volunteers could purchase at this regional food bank in Tampa Bay. Before the truck, they were limited to transporting only one pallet of food. The truck, however, holds six pallets of food. Bullaro makes two trips to Tampa a week (Tuesday and Friday), collecting 12 pallets of food in all -- assuming Feeding America shelves were full.
“But most of our support comes from the huge Project Hunger donations we receive from parishioners of Prince of Peace and Our Lady of Guadalupe. We are so grateful to Father Kovanis of Prince of Peace for allowing us to hold our Project Hunger collection each month.
"Likewise, we thank first Deacon Ron, and then Father Gilberto Quintera when he joined us last fall, for allowing us to hold our Project Hunger collection at Our Lady of Guadalupe — and also for providing us with a home for Our Lady's Pantry.”
Bullaro points out that the Pantry has outgrown the small classroom they had been using for years and is hoping to expand in some fashion one day soon. The expanded room will provide additional food and freezer space to allow Our Lady's Pantry to better serve adults and children in our community. We will keep you posted as our plans become clear.
“We are so appreciative of anything you can do to help,” says Bullaro. “We welcome monetary donations, especially, because we can buy food at Feeding Tampa Bay for $.18 a pound. A little bit of money typically goes a long way toward feeding our neighbors in need.
“On those occasions when Feeding America is low on food, however, as has happened several times in the past year, we need to dip further into our financial reserves to purchase food from local supermarkets at current market prices.
“Thank you again for your generosity.”
If you wish to help further with food, kindly make a check out to Our Lady's Pantry -- Food, c/o Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Migrant Mission Church, and send it to 16650 U.S. Highway 301 South, Wimauma, Fl. 33598.