TEMPLE TERRACE — Maureen Kerfoot doesn't judge people based on their financial status.
She's seen firsthand how the less-than-stellar state of the economy has negatively affected many area residents' pocketbooks — as well as the lives of their family members.
Kerfoot, who was laid off 10 months ago, is among the many who've failed to find a new job. So as chairperson of the Temple Terrace Junior Woman's Club's public issues committee, she agreed to chair the organization's second annual food drive to help fill the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry on the campus of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace.
“What speaks to me is that any one of us could be in this situation and by helping out we are making a difference in the lives of so many people,” Kerfoot said.
Club members plan to distribute bags throughout the community Saturday through May 14 and are requesting that residents fill them with nonperishable items and place them beside their mailboxes by 10 a.m. May 17 for pickup.
Items such as peanut butter, canned beans, meats and fruits are always in high demand, according to food pantry coordinator Cheryl Stine.
Dry pasta and tomato sauce, macaroni and cheese, canned spaghetti, canned beef stew, soup and cereal also seem to fly off the shelves quickly every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. when the food pantry is open to people who reside in neighborhoods with 33617 and 33637 ZIP codes.
On a recent Saturday, 1,288 pounds of food pantry donations were given out to 35 families in need, each of which is entitled to take advantage of the service on a monthly basis.
“The amount of people we serve has doubled since I first started about a year ago,” said Stine, who donates her time to the mission.
She said she sees people of all ages and from all walks of life.
“With Obamacare, a lot have had their hours cut and are having a hard time making ends meet,” she said. “We also help a lot of senior citizens whose only income is Social Security and with the high price of their medicine have little left over to buy food.”
Stine also noted it's not uncommon to see people who are raising their grandchildren come in.
“The Temple Terrace Junior Woman's Club's drive is tremendous,” she said. “It gives us a cushion to hold us for an entire month.”
Norma Gonzalez, a longtime volunteer at the food pantry, echoed similar sentiments.
“We are so grateful to the Temple Terrace juniors because the people who come are really down on their luck,” she said. “It really touches my heart because you get to know them and you feel like you are really making a difference.”
Monetary donations are also welcome, said Kerfoot. Checks made payable to the St. Vincent DePaul Society can be put in the bags and placed at curbside for the junior woman's club members to pick up, or can be dropped off at or mailed to the Corpus Christi Catholic Church office at 9715 N. 56th St., Temple Terrace, FL 33617.
Former Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti is a Corpus Christ parishioner and serves as president of the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry.
He is highly supportive of the club's willingness to collect food for what he believes is a very worthy cause.
“The amount of food we give out is amazing and it helps so many families that come in,” he said. “But our pantry is pretty empty right now so I hope the community will support the food drive.”
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]