400 baskets filled with food and holiday cheer
By Kyle LoJacono
PASCO COUNTY — All eight of the rotary clubs in central and east Pasco County recently joined forces to donate holiday baskets to needy families.
“This is the first year we’ve done the holiday baskets, and to be honest, we just became aware of the tremendous need in Land O’ Lakes,” said Randy Gailit, president for the Rotary Club of Land O’ Lakes. “You kind of think you’re isolated from poverty here in central Pasco, but there are many people that need help all year.”
The basket program is called the Eastside Eight Community Food Drive. The Land O’ Lakes club, the Rotary Club of San Antonio, and the two rotary clubs in Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City packed 400 baskets for needy families in central and east Pasco on Dec. 19.
“We wanted to do something with all eight of the local rotary clubs, and this is the first time we’ve been able to do it,” said Mike Mira, president of the Rotary Club of Zephyrhills. “I don’t think people know just how much need there is for food during the holidays.”
Each of the clubs was responsible for providing the supplies for their baskets. The baskets included nonperishable food for the holidays, like canned ham and vegetables, boxed mashed potatoes and cereal, to feed a family for several dinners during the holiday break from school.
The families in need were selected by the schools in the various areas to find the families most in need. The food was dropped off at the schools on Dec. 21 and then given to the families.
Mira said the holiday break is especially hard on needy families that receive financial aid, such as free or reduced priced lunch. Many of these children get most of their food from their schools, so the holiday break can be a very hungry time.
“The great thing about this program is everyone can know the food is going to local families only,” Mira said. “It doesn’t go anywhere else but right here in our local community.”
Gailit said of the number of people who could use help, “The need is greater than the 400 baskets that we’re distributing. We could use all the help we can get with helping the needy in Pasco.”
How to help
- Rotary Club of Land O’ Lakes, (813) 918-3027,
- Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel Sunrise, (813) 907-7990
- Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel, (813) 973-2392
- Rotary Club of Zephyrhills Daybreak, P.O. Box 1797 Zephyrhills, FL 33539
- Rotary Club of Zephyrhills P.O. Box 1234 Zephyrhills, FL 33539,
- Rotary Club of Dade City Sunrise, (352) 797-0638
- Rotary Club of Dade City-Downtown,
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