Dedicated volunteers, partnerships behind success of weekly food giveaway in Pine Hills

A dedicated group of volunteers and community partnerships is behind the success of a weekly food distribution started to help families impacted by the Coronavirus.

United Foundation of Central Florida started the drive-thru food giveaway in Pine Hills over the summer. Every Thursday at 10 a.m., hundreds of people drive to 6003 Silver Star Road, Suite 1 and pick-up a box of food.

Every week volunteer Catherine Hagan can be found loading boxes into car trunks.

“They work so hard and we just thought this is the place we want to invest in,” Hagan said. She said she got involved with the food giveaway one week after it started, after her husband heard about the distribution on TV.

“I think just seeing things in the world and being really frustrated and wanting to do something to help and we just kind of didn’t know what and where and when we saw that it immediately resonated with our hearts.”

Hagan said she researched the organization online then donated her time and money to help efforts. She has been volunteering for three months now.

“It breaks our heart that people are struggling and I just want to be a part of the solution as much as I can, whatever I can,”

Volunteer Sierra Range heard about the food giveaway on social media and was moved to volunteer her time and money as well.

“Just to be able to make a difference even if just a little bit, [helps].”

Together, Range and Hagan have donated enough money to feed about 3,000 families, said United Foundation of Central Florida Executive Director Sandra Fatmi-Hall. Fatmi-Hall said that is more than 40 percent of the nearly 7,000 families they have helped so far.

“I’m so grateful and happy that they’re able to come out every week and be a blessing and it truly has been a labor of love,” Fatmi-Hall said about the volunteers.

Fatmi-Hall said community partnerships and volunteers have been essential to the food distribution’s success, including a $20,000 donation from Dr. Trisha Bailey of Bailey’s Pharmacy.

“It actually energizes me and helps me to keep going, that people want to help us to keep going not only financially, but volunteering their time to be here,” Fatmi-Hall said.

She said she hopes to continue the food giveaway through Thanksgiving. The food distribution happens every Thursday at 10 a.m. at 6003 Silver Star Road Ste 1. To donate or for more information contact Sandra Fatmi-Hall at 770-789-7004.