Captain James Mallo of the Pasco Co. Sheriff's Office, left, and State Senator Mike Fasano load a food basket into a car so that this family in need can have a holiday meal next week.
LARGO, FL -
In the parking lot at Gulf View Square mall, a steady stream of cars pull up to get a special gift from the Sheriff's Office. For weeks the Sheriff's Office, with help from local schools and churches, have collected food and donations to help feed families in need.
State Senator Mike Fasano and members of the Sheriff's Office loaded food baskets into the cars and handed out gift certificates to buy a turkey.
Fasano said, "there are so many people that are struggling out there throughout the Pasco county.....throughout the Tampa Bay area you know as you can see they're pulling up here and at least they know for a couple of days they will have some food in their home and have a Christmas dinner."
Many of those getting the food baskets were thankful for the kindness of others. Richard Nigh said this gift means a lot to his family. "We have six people living under our roof and this will help giving a Christmas dinner that we can all be very happy with."
Kristin Chapman also received a food basket. "Makes me feel good that people actually care and somebody put my name in and then called and said by the way I put your name in I mean we didn't even know about it until the other day."
Four years ago the Sheriff's Office helped 400 families in need with food baskets. This year that number has grown to over 11 hundred.
And with donations being low due to the struggling economy, Sheriff Chris Nocco says it is the volunteers that made this holiday gift happen.
"They worked tirelessly because this is their baby this is their project because they realize how important it is and when you see the vehicles come through and they smile you know that makes a difference."