Stacey Efaw, the executive director of the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in Brandon, spoke to the FishHawk Riverview Rotary Club on April 29 to discuss the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive set for May 11.
"We need volunteers at the Seffner, Valrico, Brandon and Riverview post offices," she said. The food drive, she added, "gives us about at least half of the food we need for the year."
Last year, about 80,000 pounds of food was collected locally during the one-day food drive, which is billed as "the largest one-day food drive in the nation and probably the world," according to notice of the event on the United States Postal Service's Web site.
Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers when they deliver the mail volunteer to pick up from those mailboxes non-perishable food items left behind for the food drive. As noted:
"Led by letter carriers represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers, with the help of rural letter carriers, other postal employees and numerous other volunteers, the national drive has resulted in the delivery of more than one billion pounds of donations to community food banks and pantries over the past 20 years."
Volunteers of all ages are needed here at home to unload and sort the food for storage. Due to the large volume of food received, and the often unrelenting sun that marks the occasion, the sorting and boxing of donated non-perishables is set to take place at Feeding America, 4702 Transport Drive, Building 6, off State Road 60. The sorting, in 2011, was moved from ECHO to the Feeding America warehouse.
ECHO serves more than 700 area residents monthly from the communities of Brandon, Lithia, Dover, Gibsonton, Seffner, Valrico and Riverview. The group provides food, clothing and household items to individuals and families in emergency situations up to four times in a lifetime.
ECHO has an agreement with Feeding America Tampa Bay, which stores ECHO's food at Feeding America's warehouse. In turn, ECHO has transformed its food pantry space into a client service center focused on meeting a greater realm of social services needs.
- ECHO Grows With Client Service Center
- Ribbon-Cutting for ECHO Client Service Center
- 'Eating Healthy on a Budget' Highlights Produce Mission at ECHO
ECHO volunteers pick up food weekly from Feeding America to meet the needs of food pantry clients.
All of this means that volunteers on May 11, as noted, will be needed at the Brandon, Valrico, Seffner and Riverview post offices, and also at Feeding America off Adamo Drive.
- For information about volunteer shifts and opportunities, and to sign up, visit ECHO online.
ECHO is one of Brandon's oldest and more-established charities, serving people who because of emergencies find themselves in need of food, clothes, small household furnishings and social services. Efaw talked about ECHO's mission and accomplishments at the April 29 Rotary meeting.