Frances Fusco doesn’t have to bug anyone.
She doesn’t have to knock on doors or solicit or even beg.
“They just do it,” the longtime resident of Southport Springs Golf & Country Club in Zephyrhills said.
Fusco is referring to her neighbors and community friends — the same ones, without hesitation, that brought large helpings of food and goods and other pantry donations for the annual food drive she heads up just before Thanksgiving.
On Nov. 9, Fusco, and about a dozen helpers, stationed themselves at the community’s clubhouse and welcomed anyone from Southport — and neighboring communities — who were willing to donate to the food banks of nearby churches.
The food drive is in its fifth year and has always benefited St Joseph’s Catholic Church, First United Methodist Church of Zephyrhills and Chancey Road Christian Church. First Presbyterian Church of Zephyrhills was added to the congregation this year.
Fusco and company loaded up car trunks and backseats, while Reverend Denise Lay, of First Presbyterian, brought the church’s van and was able to take back plenty of food, including a frozen turkey.
“Any drive is very huge for us,” Lay said, “but this one, being included this year, has been wonderful. We’re thankful for it, as we are for all our food that comes in the door and then goes right back out.”
Lay said there has been high demand at her church’s food bank, which is why it is planning two Thanksgiving meal giveaways. One will be before the holiday, with those in need able to pick up to-go meals. The church also will host a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 24.
“Our food ministry has risen up to serve and we’ve served so many,” Lay said.
The Southport community runs several fundraisers or charitable activities throughout the year. In January, they’ll host one to benefit Caterpillars to Butterflies, the Dade City charity that supports at-risk children.
At Southport, Fusco says, the residents have the full support of the community management group, Sun Communities, which “gives us a general manager who is so open and responsive to all that we do as a community,” she added.
Fusco said everyone is made well aware of the food drive, from it being in the neighborhood newsletter, email blasts and reminders at the weekly coffee social.
Fusco, a former nurse in the Air Force who served in Vietnam, is proud of her community for stepping up, especially since promoting the food drive was pretty unnecessary.
Here,” she said, “you don’t have to bug people to donate, or beg from them. They have enough that they’re willing to donate their food, as well as their time and talents, to help out.
“I think more communities should do this, because this is one of the great things about Southport.”
First Presbyterian Church of Zephyrhills Community Thanksgiving Dinner
Where: 5510 19th St., Zephyrhills
When: Nov. 24, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Details: Meals will be served inside the church’s Fellowship Hall to those who are alone or need a meal. No reservations required for the event. Meals will be served until all are served or food runs out.
Published November 23, 2022