POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Donations are surging at a Polk County non-profit organization focused on providing meals for food insecure and homeless children every weekend. But more donations are needed.
“I don’t know how many people have told me that they saw the story on your channel and they said, ‘We need to help. How can we help?’” said Patty Strickland, executive director of KidsPACK, Inc. “We’ve had people as far as St. Petersburg that’s brought food in, Tampa, Orlando, Lakeland.”
8 On Your Side reported in March about the hardships, the organization was facing when it came to supply.
“We are unable to continue to order,” Strickland told News Channel 8 on March 25. “We’ve gone through U.S. Food. We’ve gone through Sysco. We’ve gone through Sam’s. We’ve gone through Publix. Basically what they’re saying is the quantity that you need is not available to you.”
So after some news coverage, the community stepped up in a big way.
“These stories have sparked a community to give,” said Randy Browning, founder of KidsPACK. “They were lined up the next day out front which was very humbling and satisfying.”
The leaders at KidsPACK say churches, organizations, neighborhoods and individuals have donated items.
The food items the organization needs are:
- Chef Boyardee 7.5 oz Microwaveable Bowls
- Beef Ravioli
- Mac and Cheese
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- ABC123 – Spaghetti O’s – Chicken and Rice
- 4 oz. Applesauce, Mixed Fruit or Mandarin Oranges
- Pop Tarts
One 90-year old man offered up some boxes of PopTarts while social distancing at home.
“He just said, ‘I know it’s small but can I do this and will it make a ripple?’” said Strickland. “And I said, ‘no it will make an impact, it won’t make a ripple’.”
Donations are accepted at drop-off sites across Tampa Bay: Play It Again Sports in Lakeland, Community Moving & Storage in Tampa, 7-11 in Auburndale, and First Baptist Assembly in Bartow.
Mike Johnson, the owner of Play It Again Sports, got the idea from his wife.
“She immediately came to me and said, ‘Can we be a drop off location for KidsPACK?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely,'” recalled Johnson. “We keep it all upstairs. One day I guess I hadn’t been in the kitchen in a few days and I walked upstairs and it was just loaded down with stuff from KidsPACK.”
The KidsPACK warehouse is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday for donations.
Donors can also purchase items online.