Lake Cares Food Pantry says thanks – and reminds us not forget there is still need

Lake Cares Food Pantry held their annual donor appreciation luncheon at Lake Cares Food Pantry on Thursday afternoon at Lake Receptions.

There was a full ballroom on Thursday for the Lake Cares Food Pantry 2016 Donor Appreciation Luncheon
There was a full ballroom on Thursday for the Lake Cares Food Pantry 2016 Donor Appreciation Luncheon

Cathy Hoechst, President of the Lake Cares Food Pantry Board welcomed attendees to the luncheon, acknowledging elected officials, volunteers and donors to the annual luncheon.  Irene O’Malley, Lake Cares Executive Director then gave a brief presentation to the full ballroom, thanking past donors and covering some highlights from the food pantry’s 2015 operations.

Lake Cares Food Pantry has over 140 active volunteers who distributed over 340,000 pounds of food in 2015.  To reach that lofty goal they not only accepted cash and food donations, they created outreach events intended to raise awareness of the needs of many residents within Lake County.

Pat Burke of Hoops for Life and Gerry Guenther of G3 Development
Pat Burke of Hoops for Life and Gerry Guenther of G3 Development

Among the highlights of 2015 discussed was the golf tournament, called Burgers and Birdies – which sold out with 144 golfers, and also benefited from the generosity of hole and cart sponsors.  The event will be held again in September of this year.  Lake Cares also held a chili cook-off last year and had a ‘Celebrate the Season Gala’ and holiday sale of Christmas items that helped to raise funds to stock the pantry shelves.

Volunteers participated in the Lion’s Club Christmas parade, as well.  Thanks to the Lion’s Club, almost 1,000 pounds of food were collected during the parade.

 

Mount Dora City Council Member Cal Rolfson and his wife Shirley
Mount Dora City Council Member Cal Rolfson and his wife Shirley

There was an acknowledgement of the awards received by the organization including being named the Community Organization of the Year by the Tavares Chamber of Commerce and being the first recipient of an award from Second Harvest for the exemplary efforts and success achieved by Lake Cares in serving their clients.

O’Malley acknowledged the partnerships and generosity within the communityIrene O'Malleyshe and her board, volunteers and staff serve, repeatedly talking about programs worked in conjunction with others.

The food pantry benefited from the generosity of the Harper Family Charitable Foundation – local foundation that provided 400 meals for families over the holidays, that was added to by Publix, Target, T.J. Maxx.  Through local those local businesses, families in need received toys, clothing and sundries to help make the holidays more bearable for those in need.

Far Reach Ranch in Tavares provided 3,000 pounds of fresh blueberries to Lake Cares, so much bounty, in fact – that Lake Cares reached out to other food pantries in the area so they could share the gift with their clients.

There were kindnesses of labor and time provided to Lake Cares, as well.  Members of the Ixora Circle of the Lakes and Hills Garden Club were on hand as O’Malley showed the assembled lunch crowd slides of Club members re-landscaping the building’s exterior grounds after Hand in Hand Powerhouse Recovery removed all of the old and dying shrubs and trees for them.

The appreciation extended to the youngest members of the community as well – as O’Malley showed a video of children from Montessori at Roseborough singing Christmas carols to the food pantry clients and she acknowledged the littlest volunteers at the pantry who come to help out.

Lake Cares Executive Director Irene O'Malley, Larry Baker, Donna Brown, Ken Mazik of Main Street Leasing, and Cathy Hoechst, President of the Lake Cares Food Pantry Board
Lake Cares Executive Director Irene O’Malley, Larry Baker, Donna Brown, Ken Mazik of Main Street Leasing, and Cathy Hoechst, President of the Lake Cares Food Pantry Board

There was a special feel-good surprise near the end of the luncheon when it was announced that Main Street Leasing was donating a matching $25,000 to help feed children over the summer break from school.  That donation is above the donations the company regularly makes to Lake Cares. It will help to fill the hole left, once schools close and the lunch program that offers many children their only nutritional meal of the day is suspended over the summer holiday.

Deputy Chief Robert Bell, Interim City Manager Kim Leinbach and Mount Dora Chief of Police John O'Grady. The Mount Dora Police has worked on several events in conjunction with Lake Cares Food Pantry. Mr. Leinbach very kindly attended the event on only his second day on the job in Mount Dora.
Deputy Chief Robert Bell, Interim City Manager Kim Leinbach and Mount Dora Chief of Police John O’Grady. The Mount Dora Police Department has worked on manyl events in conjunction with Lake Cares Food Pantry. Mr. Leinbach very kindly attended the event on only his second day on the job in Mount Dora.

The luncheon ended with more thanks to the generous partners, volunteers, organizations and individuals that have helped Lake Cares Food Pantry provide food and services for the 28,000+ people they have assisted.  Lead Pastor of theCross Mount Dora, Zach Zehnder kindly and sincerely prodded attendees to fill envelopes with more hope and help for the needy as attendees finished the last of their lunches and departed the event.

To learn more about how you can help, or to see Lake Cares Food Pantry’s upcoming events, click: here.

Melissa DeMarco, Editor (editor@mountdoracitizen.com)