Members of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club volunteered, as they traditionally do, at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at The Shops of Wiregrass. The club also manned an information booth and dispensed water to the walkers, as did its affiliate club, the GFWC Little Women of Lutz. The women dressed in shades of pink embellished with attention-getting headgear, tutus and boas. Members Linda Mitchell (Chair) & Debbie Cardona.
Whether it’s sewing protective masks, printing free coloring books, holding prayer services, giving away pizzas or providing pallets of food — people across The Laker/Lutz News are stepping up to help others, in response to the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Linda Mitchell, of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, has organized a group of seamstresses who are using their skills to make protective masks.
Mitchell delivers the 100% cotton fabric and ¼-inch elastic needed to make the masks to the volunteer seamstresses, then beeps her horn when she drops off the materials in the volunteer’s driveways.
The staff at RP&G Printing, in Wesley Chapel, created youth activity and coloring books and adult coloring pages, as a way of giving back to the community — during these stressful times. They leave them outside for people to pick them up, and post pages to social media so people can print them, to avoid personal contact.
At AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, a group of “prayer warriors” arrived by caravan, to pray for the hospital’s care team and community. There were two mobile digital boards with scriptures, and the group honked their horns and flashed their lights before parking to pray, according to a news release from the West Florida Division of AdventHealth.
The group’s next planned stop was on March 28, at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.
Meanwhile, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, donated 20,000 pounds of food on March 27, splitting the delivery between Lewis Abraham Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club and Metropolitan Ministries.
Pitching in at the Boys and Girls Club were State Rep. Randy Maggard, who represents District 38 in the Florida House of Representatives; Patrick Thornton, stake president for the church; Cassie Coleman, director of Boys & Girls Club; and Kathy Hunt, director of Restored Hope, which received 2,300 pounds of food to help people in East Pasco, according to Melonie Monson, who is involved with the church.
Life Church, in Wesley Chapel, has been providing ongoing help and remains committed to doing what it can, said Robin Granger, director of Life Community Center, which is operated by the church.
“Our pastors unequivocally said, ‘This is the time that we move forward and we press in and we don’t step back,’” said Granger, whose church is providing to-go meals instead of community lunches once a week and operating a drive-thru food pantry on another day.
It is willing to do more, she said.
“If there are folks who are sick and shut-in, I have a team of volunteers and we also have a team of folks from the church who would be willing to deliver boxes of food to them.
“If you know people who need someone to help organize donations, we have the team of people and the willing congregation to step in and be the hands and feet of who we say we are, and what we’re supposed to do,” she said. (Those needing help should call (813) 994-0685).
The church wants to help, but could use some help, too, Granger said.
It needs more food donations because grocery stores have less to give these days, Granger said.
Bubba’s 33, a restaurant in Wesley Chapel, also is stepping up. On March 27, it gave away 33 pizzas to the first 33 patrons waiting in line at 3:33 p.m.
The goal was to help feed hungry families, according to a news release.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is pitching in, too.
Deputies and other agency employees are making takeout purchases at businesses across Pasco County, to offer support during these trying times.
Donations also are coming from major companies, as well as individuals.
Florida Blue, for instance, is providing $100,000 to help the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, YMCA of the Suncoast and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
The money is being combined with donations by YMCA members to offer all-day youth relief care for essential workers at 21 Y locations across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Citrus and Hernando counties.
The gift is part of $2 million that Florida Blue is using to address urgent health and safety needs in communities across the state.
There’s also a group called Together in Peace that wants to reach out to seniors who normally go to community senior centers during the week, but are unable to do so because the centers are closed.
“We will be calling them to say hello, have a friendly chat, and offer some social connection during this time of social distancing,” Sharon Hall, a member of the group, said via email.
“At this time we are just waiting for response back from Pasco County Senior Services, who we understand will connect us with seniors that have signed up/indicated they would like to be contacted,” Hall said.
Also, NAMI Pasco, a mental health care organization that provides programs and support groups, has temporarily ceased its programs. But, it is offering text peer support services to those with mental health conditions, from noon to 6 p.m., each day it is closed, with the promise of responding within one hour. To use the service, text (863) 223-6799, and provide your first name. Anyone with a mental health emergency should call 911.
Published April 1, 2020
Flag-wavers held their flags high, as drivers passing by on U.S. 41 honked their horns in support.
The red, white and blue draped with stars has always symbolized America, but on this particular Tuesday, it held a much more significant meaning. It was 17 years to the day of the 9/11 attacks.
Local members of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, and other members of the community, stood outside the Old Lutz School, flags in hand, to commemorate the lives lost that horrific day.
They, like others in the country, paused to reflect and show gratitude to heroes past, and those still present.
The events of Sept. 11, 2001 changed the way of life in America.
On that morning, 19 men hijacked four U.S. commercial airplanes, crashing them into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A total of 2,977 people were killed in the attacks orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, according to national reports.
The aftermath left many with long-term effects, both physical and emotional.
“In 2002, we started this because we wanted to remember,” said Pat Serio, coordinator of the event. “We wanted to share our patriotism and support.”
Serio, like others, knows exactly where she was when she first heard of the attacks.
She was at home watching the news when regular broadcasting was interrupted by the flowing smoke from the World Trade Center.
Her initial reaction was: ““It has to be an aviation problem,” she recalled.
Not long after, Serio came to find out that the country was under attack.
“As a (native) New Yorker, I felt the impact,” Serio added.
Dee Knerr, who also took part in the flag-waving tribute, said she was scheduled to fly back to Florida on Sept.11, after visiting family in Ohio.
“I was scheduled to fly home that afternoon, getting ready to go to the airport,” said Knerr. “Of course, all the flights were cancelled.”
After working 40 years at the Lutz Post Office, Knerr is now retired and dedicates her time to the woman’s club.
Besides remembering the lives that were lost on Sept. 11, the tribute was also intended to honor American troops, law enforcement and firefighters.
“They put their lives out there every day for us,” said Knerr. “I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
Ben Nevel, a member of the Citizens for the Old Lutz School Building, also took part in the tribute.
“We all need to stand together,” said Nevel, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Another member of the crowd was Linda Mitchell, a Lutz native and retired teacher.
She recalled being conflicted, as the news broke about the terrorist attacks.
She decided not to show the news coverage in her class.
“It was hard being a teacher during that day,” she said. “We wanted to know as citizens what was going on, but we were protecting our students.”
Before retirement, she had the opportunity to teach children who were born after 9/11.
She said there was a stark contrast between how students who lived during the incident perceived it, and those who came after.
The memorial also came as something personal for Mitchell, as both her husband and son serve as Hillsborough County firefighters.
In waving their flags, the men and women gathered in front of the Old Lutz School were reminding those passing by about the need to remember the fallen, and to express gratitude for the men and women who continue to put themselves in harm’s way, whether they are wearing military uniforms, or serving as first responders.
Published September 19, 2018