The needs of the hungry and the community's response to meet them were discussed Thursday morning, Feb. 7, at the weekly breakfast meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, held at Ben's Family Restaurant in Brandon.
"One in six people in this area face hunger issues, which means they may not know where their next meal is coming from," said the meeting's speaker, Kathy Collins, events director for the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in Brandon.
Her job is to talk about ECHO and program fundraising events, "which we need to be able to buy fresh produce and proteins and socks, underwear and diapers for kids." These items augment the non-perishable food items and clothes and small household furnishings that area residents have been donating for years.
In service for 25 years, Collins noted that over the past few years ECHO has served more than 10,000 people annually, half of whom are children. The need grows in trying economic times, she added.
And still, many people don't know about the services available to them, because in the past, some of these people were the donors themselves, and not the people in need of assistance.
- See ECHO Resounds in the Community With Support for Those in Need (includes a review of services provided, volunteer opportunities available and 2012 numbers and achievements).
Toward that end, ECHO workers and volunteers meet often in the community and with community residents in the Greater Brandon area to discuss upcoming events and to attend to the needs of people who visit ECHO on Parsons Avenue to receive food, clothing, small household furnishings and client services.
Collins noted the following initiatives and upcoming events:
- Through Feb. 17 — Help ECHO End Childhood Hunger in Brandon by visiting any one of the six Beef 'O' Brady’s restaurants in the Greater Brandon area (FishHawk, Kings Avenue, Bell Shoals Road, Miller Road, Adamo Drive and Seffner) and USAmeriBank on Oakfied Drive. Visit during hours of operation through February 17 and make a donation of either $1 (help feed a child for one day) or $5 (help feed a child for a week).
- Saturday, March 9 — Empty Bowls, at the Winthrop Pole Barn in Riverview, from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is $15. At the event, attendees are invited to "enjoy a delicious bowl of soup prepared by the area's finest restaurants along with bread, water and dessert and help end hunger now in Brandon." Sponsorships are available.
- Saturday, March 23 — Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, with ECHO, presents a Run To End Hunger, at Al Lopez Park in Tampa, at 4810 North Himes Ave. The 5K race for adults starts 8 a.m. Cost is $25 for early bird registration (by March 1) and $30 on race day. Chip-timed run. The 3K race for kids starts 9 a.m. Cost is $15 (early bird); $20 (race day). Medals for top three men and women racers and for top 14 runners in under-age groups. Race day registration is 7 a.m.
- Thursday, April 18 — Spring Trunk Show at The Loft Event Lodge in Brandon, from 6 to 9 p.m., at 711 West Lumsden Road, in the shopping center at the corner of Lumsden Road and Kings Avenue. This will be ECHO's third designer thrift sale, following prior-year efforts at Barnacles and the Barn Theatre at Winthrop, which raised roughly $5,000 and $4,000, respectively, according to Collins.
The Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) is at 507 North Parsons Ave., north of Brandon Boulevard. Call: 813-685-0935. Visit online at www.echofl.org.