“All of us at Our Lady’s Pantry wish to thank those of you who have been sending us checks for food,” says director Tom Bullaro. “Every single dollar you send will be put to good use.
“Many of the clients we serve were food insecure before the coronavirus arrived. With the hardship of the virus piggybacking on their lives just now, we don’t want them to be anxious about getting food for themselves and their families. We want them to know we care.
“The generosity of others has been stunning,” he says. “In addition to lots of small checks, which add up and are so important, some folks have been sending us portions of their stimulus checks. Some are sending the entire amount, in fact. We have actually received a total of $40,000 from the individuals in this community reaching out to help their neighbors during this time of need!
"Clubs are remembering us, as well. For example, we just received a $1,000 check from the Irish Connection, two checks totaling $1,100 from the SCC Rotary Club Foundation, and $500 from the Elks Lodge.”
According to Bullaro, these gifts are more important than ever. Typically, the Pantry purchases most of its food from Feeding Tampa Bay, our regional food bank, at greatly reduced prices. Whenever there is some kind of community crisis, such as a hurricane or, in this case, the coronavirus, however, the food supply line is affected. More people than usual are at risk for going hungry.
Feeding Tampa Bay must share what food they have among more pantries and organizations. This means is that there is less food for Our Lady’s Pantry.
“In recent weeks, meat and canned goods often are unavailable to us from Feeding Tampa Bay,” he says. “For this reason, I’ve been buying much of our food at Aldi’s. Aldi’s is giving us a good price, but we still can’t get as much for every dollar as we get at Feeding Tampa Bay.
“We’ve been receiving lots of food donations too,” says Bullaro. “Interestingly, one of our volunteers had the idea to put a bucket on her driveway. She then went onto the Next Door Web site for her neighborhood requesting donations for the Pantry. She has been swamped with donations of not only non-perishable food, but also checks and cash.”
The Women’s Club of Valencia Lakes had a food drive for Mother’s Day for us, too. Food was to have been taken to the Clubhouse in Valencia Lakes. The Clubhouse was closed because of the virus, however, so residents were given alternate locations to drop off their food.
Participants in the Kings Point Pickle Ball Tournament also collected food for our pantry, delivering more than 600 pounds of food and a check as well.
“But that’s not all! St. Anne’s Pantry just gave us a pallet of chicken. And Costco gave us a pallet of meat. All of our clients received a lot of food this week,” says Bullaro.
If you wish to donate food, Bullaro is most in need of the nutritious essentials our families need for a balanced diet. Unexpired canned fruits and vegetables like beans and spaghetti sauce are wonderful. Peanut butter, rice, nuts, canned meats and fish are great as well. You can drop off non-perishable food donations on Tuesday and Friday mornings when the Pantry is open.
“If you are in need of food, please be sure to come to the Pantry on Saturday morning between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.,” says Bullaro. “We can give all of our regulars a big box of food as usual. If you are not registered, we can still give you a big bag of food. One bag per car. You won’t go home emptyhanded.
“Thank you again, everyone, for your care of us in this time of need — whether money, food, or volunteers. You are the backbone of all of us getting through this crisis. Together, we are making a difference.”
If you wish to donate, kindly make your check out to Our Lady’s Pantry and mail it to: 16650 U.S. Highway 301 South; Wimauma, Fl. 33598.