These are not normal times and the community is responding to surging needs in light of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel and Firefighters Charities of Pasco joined together to purchase $10,000 of nonperishable food items, as well as toilet paper, tissues and paper towels — to help Pasco County seniors.
The two groups collaborated with Pasco County Senior Services’ center based in Land O’ Lakes, to ensure seniors in the Central Pasco community are helped during this unique time in the history of the United States.
The Land O’ Lakes senior center serves 84 seniors, Monday through Friday.
The food drive organizers also partnered with a local food pantry operated in the Angus Valley community of Wesley Chapel, by Life Church. The pantry is located at Life Community Center.
The donated food bags include pasta, yellow rice, black beans, fruit cups, applesauce, tomato sauce, cereal, oatmeal, tuna, fruit snacks, animal crackers, white kidney beans, chewy bars and cookies.
The pantry items, which are in large bulk, include tuna, pasta, animal crackers, fruit cups, ravioli, beans, cereal and pasta sauce.
Goodwill Industries Suncoast Inc., also is stepping forward to help collect food during this record time of unemployment. They are collecting food for Feeding Tampa Bay’s community food outreach program.
All Goodwill-Suncoast retail stores in Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties will be collection points for nonperishable food donations.
Items most needed include canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and canned chicken.
Those wishing to help are asked to leave donated items in carts outside of the stores.
The food drive is being conducted April 15 through April 30. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m., on Sunday. For store locations, visit Goodwill-suncoast.org/store-locations/.
While some groups are focusing on food needs, volunteers from the GFWC Wesley Chapel Woman’s Club are making masks for first responders.
Numerous members are involved with picking up and dropping off supplies they can find, to allow the mask production to continue.
Meanwhile, employees of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office are making a point to purchase items at local businesses to help them weather the financial blow the pandemic has caused, and Sheriff Chris Nocco and members of his team are featured in department videos, offering suggestions intended to help people through the crisis.
“We don’t know how long this will last. I know people are frustrated being at home. They’re frustrated by being on the couch, and especially for parents having those little ones constantly running around.
“But, please continue to follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines. Stay at home. Keep social distancing. If you’re sick, stay inside and quarantine yourself,” Nocco said. “We have to do this to flatten the curve because it’s not going to be over next week. It’s an extended period of time.
Nocco also informed the public that they will be seeing deputies wearing masks.
“They have the option, like you, to follow the CDC guidelines. Please understand, it doesn’t mean they have symptoms of COVID-19, nor the person they are interacting with has symptoms of COVID-19.
“They’re just taking precautions like they want to, like you can, following the CDC guidelines.
The sheriff also encouraged parents to keep a close eye on the social media their children are using.
“Be nosy. Get involved,” he urged parents. “Unfortunately, we’ve found incidents where young girls, under age, were meeting up with adult males. So, please get on those social media sites. Know what they are doing.”
The sheriff’s office also has videos featuring department employees talking about the issues of maintaining mental health and de-escalating stressful situations during these difficult times.
To find out more, visit the department’s Facebook Page and click on the videos tab.
Local sources of help include:
Feeding Tampa Bay
Visit the website to find a pantry: FeedingTampaBay.org/find-a-pantry/
Life Community Center, 6542 Applewood Drive, Wesley Chapel
Services available include:
- Laundry and showers for the homeless by appointment. Call (813) 994-0685.
- Drive-thru hot meal Tuesday, from noon to 1 p.m.
- Limited access to printing and faxing as needed. Call (813) 994-0685.
- Food ministry/pantry drive-thru, Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Emergency food boxes on case-by-case basis. Call (813) 994-0685.
- Free program that provides telephone reassurance to seniors
- If you enjoy, value and love our seniors, if you love listening to their great stories or heartfelt advice, if you love engaging in conversation and knowing that you are bringing happiness to a senior simply by listening and caring on the phone – this may be just the volunteer opportunity you’ve been seeking.
- Go to TelePalNow.org to apply to be a TelePal (A person who makes a phone call) or a TeleClient (A person who receives a call).
- Training, a background check and monthly crosschecks are required for all participants.
- Volunteers must be at least 18 for this program, which operates in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Want to help?
A new effort has started in Pasco County that’s part of a national initiative.
The Pasco chapter of the Frontline Appreciation Group, FLAG2020Pasco, is raising money to hire local restaurants to prepare meals for frontline employees working in intensive care units in hospitals.
“You know it brings a smile to our frontline workers and it helps our local restaurants in these challenging times,” said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who is calling attention to the effort.
To find out more, check the Facebook Group, FLAG2020Pasco.
Published April 15, 2020