The Community Stocks the Pantry in a Big Way for Local Children
August 26, 2015 by SoWal Staff
The recent Food For Thought Outreach Santa Rosa Beach Pantry on August 20th, guests were greeted with food, fun, games, and more. However, this wasn’t any run-of-the-mill party. Guests came bearing different types of gifts - businesses, schools, and churches donated truckloads of food items, guests came with monetary and food donations, and others pledged their time to volunteer throughout the upcoming 2015-16 school year.
“We were just overwhelmed with the turnout. This was only the second year for this event, but our Food Drive and Backpack Sponsors really took the reigns and committed to making this even better than last,” says Tiffanie Shelton, Founder and Executive Director of Food For Thought Outreach.
Food For Thought Outreach has grown exponentially over its first five years, growing from six students a week in 2010 to serving over 1,200 students during the 2015-2016 school year. Every month, Food For Thought Outreach will send over 48,000 food items out to help battle food insecurity in Okaloosa and Walton counties and estimates a total of 1,000,000 food items will be delivered to children in need this year.
Guests of the Stock the Pantry Party were asked to bring 5 food items or $5 for entry into the event and Food Drive Sponsors competed to see who could bring in the most food donations. The South Walton and Destin communities gave in a big way contributing over 33,000 food items for this event.
The Ohana Institute took home the top honors winning the challenge by a landslide with 11,300 items, Sandestin Real Estate took second with 2,931 items, and Wells Fargo came in a close third with 2,372 items. It was a tight race with additional teams in close competition. Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Nathan Abbott Team (ResortQuest), Shoreline Church, Noah’s Ark Preschool, The Sonder Project supported by 360 Blue, Emerald Coast Title Services, A Superior Air Conditioning supported by Beachy Beach 30A, The Preschool at Point Washington, Compass Rose Academy, Setco Services - Florida Title Company, and the many amazing individuals who stopped by with donations including members of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and St. Joe Club & Resorts all contributed to the incredible success collecting over 33,000 food items through the evening.
Backpack sponsors committed to donating at least $500 toward Food For Thought Outreach’s mission and the event collected over $9,400 this year! 2015 Backpack Sponsors included The Rotary Club of Destin, Emerald Coast Title Services, Trattoria Borago, 30AFoodAndWine.com, Linda Miller of Rosemary Beach Realty, Rushing Law Firm, Setco Services, The Pearl, Hancock Bank, Grayton Beach Gypsea, personal donations from Winky Dowdle, and The Walter Family, as well as all levels of donations collected at the door from guests.
Through the combined efforts and generosity of these Food Drive and Backpack Sponsors and the local community, Food For Thought Outreach will be able to cover the first several weeks of service this year to all 1,200 children enrolled in the program through the food item and monetary donations.
The family-friendly event was a night enjoyed by all. Pizza By the Sea provided some of their best selling slices, while Pop Stop provided cool treats for kids and adults alike, and Chanticleer Bakery and Eatery donated their famous cookies. Rent Gear Here brought outdoor games for the kids and face-painters from Abrakadoodle brought all kinds of characters to life, like fire-breathing dragons, puppies, and even the Food For Thought Outreach logo on several of the kids faces in attendance.
“This year’s event was a wonderful improvement from our first year. We had more involvement from our growing number of Sponsors, we had an amazing turnout from the community, and we hope this spurs people to continue to stay involved with Food For Thought Outreach. These are the moments we are so appreciative for the outpouring of time, effort, and passion from our friends and neighbors who do what they can to help in the fight against child hunger and food insecurity in this area,” says Nelson.
These donations will help start off the new school year on the right food for so many children in this area. “Many children on free and reduced lunch during the school week go without regular, nutritional meals over the weekend. We have several Volunteer Orientations scheduled for the next few weeks and we hope to see some faces from the Stock the Pantry Party in the meetings. Over 2,350 volunteer hours will be needed this year to organize food, pack and deliver full backpacks, return those empty backpacks to the warehouse each week, and a variety of other tasks over the course of the year,” reports Nelson.
Follow Food For Thought Outreach on Facebook and join their mailing list for additional updates. Read about the 3rd annual Art of Giving at V. Lala Galleries Sept. 17 benefiting Food For Thought.