The pantry is empty at the Emergency Care Help Organization in Brandon, where Stacey Efaw, ECHO's executive director, is making a plea for the community's help in stocking the shelves for neighbors in need this holiday season.
"We have been incredibly busy over the past few months and our pantry is empty," Efaw said in an ECHO news release Nov. 13. "You can organize a food drive or just pick up a few extra items at the grocery story for ECHO. No amount is too small or too large."
Especially needed are:
- Canned Fruits
- Canned Meats (Tuna or Chicken)
- Canned Vegetables
- Jelly or Jam
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Pasta and Sauce
- Peanut Butter
In making her plea, Efaw noted the ongoing mission of ECHO and the establishment this year, again, of the Gift of Hope Tent, just down the street from ECHO, at the First Baptist Church of Brandon grounds north of Brandon Boulevard.
The tent is a joint effort between ECHO and a group of churches in the Greater Brandon area and beyond. The churches are:
- Bay Life Church
- Bell Shoals Baptist
- First Presbyterian Church of Brandon
- First United Methodist Church of Brandon
- FishHawk Fellowship
- Horizon Christian Church
- Journey Church
- Shiloh Restoration Tabernacle of Brandon
- True Sanctuary of Praise of Riverview
- United Methodist Church of Sun City Center
"Thanksgiving is a busy time at ECHO," Efaw said. "We have many clients coming in for help. We have also been busy signing up families for the Gift of Hope Tent, which provides families with a meal for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas along with toys for their children."
Efaw noted that "ECHO depends on the generosity of the community throughout the year" and that this "generosity allows us to serve over 11,000 area residents in 13 ZIP codes stretching from Seffner to Gibsonton."
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ECHO is at 507 North Parsons Ave. in Brandon. ECHO serves people who because of emergency situations are in need of food, clothes and household furnishings. ECHO recently opened a client service center to answer as well the needs for connecting to other social services and for finding work.
ECHO will be closed Thursday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Nov. 23. ECHO will reopen Monday, Nov. 26, at 9 a.m.
In other ECHO news:
- The next Charity Thrift Sale is scheduled for Nov. 17 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring tootpaste, deodorant or shampoo to donate and get one ladies shirt for free. Shop discounted overstocked clothes and small household items and help feed people in need in the Greater Brandon area.
- ECHO received a $5,000 grant from the Greater Brandon Community Foundation on Nov. 3. Efaw said the money will be used "to help offset food costs as we enter the holiday season."
- Following the success of the ECHO Fall Trunk Show, a Spring Trunk Show is being scheduled for late April.