Our Lady’s Pantry — A hub of caring in Hillsborough County.

Fighting hunger is a community-wide passion here in the South Shore area of Hillsborough County, says Tom Bullaro.  Bullaro, who is director of Our Lady’s Pantry with his wife Anita, says that the Pantry is like a hub of sorts with food coming and going to and from many sources.  

“People know we are here,” he says.  “It’s not unusual for various clubs and neighborhoods to take up a collection and bring surplus food to us.  Just today, in fact, we received a trunk full of food from Florida Acecapader, a 55+ mobile community in Lithia.  

“We are just passing it forward,” says Gloria Welch and Kathy Ferguson, who kindly delivered the food from their friends.

“It’s like manna from heaven,” Bullaro says, referring to the many kind donations he receives.

“In fact, we get monthly donations of food, as well as money, from the Knights of Columbus through our monthly Project Hunger collections at Prince of Peace and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“Food donations come from a number of other sources as well,” he says.

HCA Florida South Shore Hospital, for example, just dropped off 1,300 pounds of food before Christmas.  Supermarkets like Sav-A-Lot and Sprouts sometimes have bags of groceries available for customers to purchase that are then donated to the Pantry.  Just this past week, for example, Sprouts donated more than 300 bags of these bags to us.  Redeemer Lutheran, Temple Beth Israel, and the Prince of Peace Lady Hibernians regularly bring us food as well.

According to Bullaro, residents in neighborhoods and groups too numerous to mention throughout Valencia Lakes, Kings Point, and Sun City Center have the Pantry on their radar and continually bring food they have collected from their neighbors.  The Women’s Club in Sun City Center has a food drive for us every year.  Valencia Lakes Travel Club brought us more than a thousand pounds of food right before Christmas.  And the Valencia Lakes Woman’s Club has been collecting food for us weekly for a very long time, donating more than 1,800 pounds of food just in 2022.

In addition, the Women’s Club in Valencia Lakes collects gifts for children at Christmas, as does St. Stephen’s, in Riverview, as well.

“We are just overwhelmed with this tremendous community support,” says Bullaro. “In many ways, Our Lady’s Pantry is the hub — and the heart — of the community, with countless persons working together to fight hunger in Hillsborough County.”