The "Ham of Brandon" is now the charm of ECHO, as noted by the crown he wears signifying his role as "Mr. ECHO." Donovan Brockett, son of Irma Davila, the self-proclaimed "Queen of Brandon," received his crown at the 2012 ECHO Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show after raising funds for the Emergency Care Help Organization food bank, clothes closet and client service center on Parsons Avenue.
ECHO officials report that it is the first time in the 10-year history of the Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show that a boy has walked away with the crown. Brockett earned the honor after raising $730 for the social services charity.
Davila, who is a social media marketer and a long-time ECHO supporter and board member, helped her son use the Internet to advance his cause. At the FirstGiving.com Web site, Brockett posted the following:
I am all for equality and want to show the girls that a boy can have a heart and raise money for charity too! My goal is to raise $500 THIS WEEK, before the fashion show on Saturday, October 6th. Can you spare $10, $25, $100 to help out a great local cause AND to help me win Mr. ECHO? Did you know? One of the perks of becoming Mr. ECHO is that at the 4th of July parade, they get to ride and wave in the car. For the past few years, I've had to walk next to the car, and boy, it gets really hot that way. And, since I'm a gentleman, I may even offer up the spot to some of the ladies walking — because my mama taught me right! So I will ask again — Might you please, pretty please, offer up what you can spare to help out a great local charity?
ECHO provides food, clothing, socks and underwear to more than 5,000 children in the Greater Brandon area. The Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show provides the majority of the financial resources to assist these children.
Overall, the food bank and clothes closet serves about 10,000 people annually, a number that has risen dramatically in these tough economic times. People and families facing emergency situations, up to four times in one lifetime, are eligible to receive aid from ECHO. Typically that has been in the form of food and small home furnishings. On Sept. 28, ECHO officials and the community celebrated a ribbon-cutting for the newly opened ECHO Client Service Center.
The vision was "to have a one-stop place in Brandon to help them here or to guide them to the exact place they need to go," said Stacey Efaw, ECHO's executive director. "We can give them food and clothing but they have other needs and I felt at times that we were just shipping them off to some other place."
At the center, Efaw noted, clients can learn about and sign up electronically for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps; the Temporary Cash Assistance Program; Medicaid; and Healthy Kids insurance.
In addition, the plan is to work with Hillsborough Coummunity College and others to provide workforce training and classes and to provide counseling and assistance to better meet the needs of clients who find themselves in dire situations because of tough times, emergency situations or an ailing economy.
Coming Up For ECHO
- Gift of Hope — ECHO is partnering with area churches to ensure that everyone can have a happy Thanksgiving and Christmas. Eight hundred families will receive everything they need for a Thanksgiving meal. For Christmas, 1,000 families will receive food for a complete holiday meal as well as funds to shop for toys for children. Anyone wishing to sponsor a turkey or volunteer for the effort should visit www.brandongiftofhope.com.
- Trunk Show — ECHO is hosting a Fall Trunk Show on Nov. 1 at the Winthrop Barn Theatre in Riverview, at 11349 Bloomingdale Ave. Tickets for the VIP preview scheduled for 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. cost $10. On sale are gently used designer items. For more information, contact Kathy Collins at 813-685-0935 or email@example.com.
- Sketch N' Sip Fundraiser — The Rotary Club of Brandon South is hosting a Sketch ‘N Sip fundraiser for ECHO on Oct. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. Sketch ‘N Sip is in Winthrop, at 11242 Winthrop Main St. in Riverview. Tickets cost $40. For more information, contact Kathy Collins at 813-685-0935 or firstname.lastname@example.org