Adrienne Castens signs her emails with a phrase of inspiration from Metropolitan Ministries: “Hope starts with a meal.”
Castens’ church, Keystone Community Church on State Road 54 near Land O’ Lakes Boulevard, provided a lot of hope already with its annual holiday food drive for Metropolitan Ministries. But Castens and other members of Keystone knew they could do more.
Last year, Castens and her team started Fun Feeds Pasco, a food drive kickoff event that turned making a donation into a festival. And thanks to the success of that event, Keystone will do it again this Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
“I don’t have the exact number in front of me, but we brought in three times as much food as we normally do during the festival last year,” said Castens, who has attended Keystone with her family for the last six years. “So we decided to do it again this year, and this time we’ve got even more activities for children, vendors, and some great entertainment lined up.”
Castens works by day as a substitute teacher, and sees firsthand more often than not what hunger can do, especially with young minds wanting to learn.
“Hunger is one of the things that breaks my heart,” she said. “I see children who come in and say their tummy hurts because they hadn’t eaten. But at least in school, they can get lunch and maybe even breakfast. But it’s during the breaks, like holidays, where they can really go hungry. Where they don’t have breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
Metropolitan Ministries looks to serve just under 590,000 meals during the holiday season in Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. To achieve that, the organization is going to need literally tons of food, and every drive — including the one at Keystone — is essential to make that happen.
The tent for Keystone’s food drive will go up this weekend, and it will accept donations through Thanksgiving week, primarily of frozen or nonperishable, nonexpired food items.
But those not wanting to clean out the pantry or hit the grocery store on the way can also bring other donations like gift cards, personal checks, new toys and new clothes. One popular donation is frozen turkeys, which could help make a needy family’s holiday truly special.
“It’s about bringing the community together, and helping those in need,” Castens said. “This isn’t just a Metropolitan Ministry thing. It’s not just a Keystone Community Church thing. This is a community event to bring awareness of the needs in our community, and to help our neighbors when they need us the most.”
The event will also include live music, face painting, clowns, inflatable bounce houses, free hot dogs and cotton candy, and even a Florida Blood Bank Bloodmobile unit.
If you go
WHAT: Fun Feeds Pasco
WHERE: Keystone Community Church, 21010 State Road 54, Land O’ Lakes
WHEN: Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
COST: Free, with suggested donation of nonperishable food, new toys or monetary donations