July 15, 2020 (Pine Hills/Orlando) — Editor’s Note: The volunteers were told to be there at 9 a.m. – to unload the U-Haul, set up and package the food to be distributed a couple of hours later. This was the third occasion of a Weekly Food Distribution for the entire month of July at the Pine Hills Community Center. The team I worked with broke down about 26 giant croker sacks of white potatoes and placed three or four of them each into plastic bags and tied the bags up. Well, we used little bag ties until another volunteer came over and showed us a faster way (the old school way): She just tied a knot at the top of one of the bags and kept it moving. Before we knew it, we were done and on to the next job!
Shout Out and Big Ups to Sandra Fatmi-Hall, Executive Director of United Foundation of Central Florida and Dr. Trisha Bailey, of Bailey’s Medical Equipment and Supplies, for hearing about a need in the community and leaping into action.
“She called me to see what the kids needed. I told her I would let her know,” said Hall said of her friend, Dr. Bailey. “Then, a few days after that, I got word that phone calls were coming in of people needing food. I went out and bought some groceries. She said, ‘Honey, how much do I owe you.'”
And the rest is history, as they say. So on Wednesdays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., they get together some volunteers and line up business partners who answer calls for donations, and the group sets up in front of the community center off Powers Drive. They distribute at no cost to families: meats, fresh vegetables, rice and beans, eggs; milk, potatoes, etc. With instructions to keep social distance and properly wear face masks, volunteers load people’s vehicles with the food, drinks and paper goods. This past Wednesday, 350 food packages were handed out. In Hall’s estimation, each package was enough to feed a family of four. There were more than 40 volunteers, she said.
What makes this food distribution unique is its frequency in the heart of the Pine Hills community. Typically, other organizations and churches in the vicinity sponsor food giveaways for one day. Also, it’s a grassroots effort and teenagers from Hall’s organization (based at Evans High School) are regular volunteers. I witnessed them diligently working; Come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing any of them with cell phones!
Hall, an active community leader, admitted the food distributed each week is never the same and the effort takes a lot of money. She was grateful for complete strangers donating – $100 here, $200 there and even someone who saw the effort posted on ClickOrlando. The person gave her $500 to help buy food.
“She said I’ve always loved the Pine Hills community,” Hall said of the gracious donor. “To me, the value is seeing people blessed. Another lady walked by and gave $250. This is a blessing.”
The people I spoke to as they drove by were grateful. They said “thank you” and “God bless you for doing this.”
Other key partners, including Feed the Need and 4 Rivers Smokehouse restaurant, provided food, volunteers and/or money.
For more information about this effort and to help out, contact Sandra Fatmi-Hall at (770) 789-7004, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook: SandraFatmi-Hall.
-Trish Martin, Founder & Editor