SUN CITY CENTER – The Sun City Center Rotary club is seeking volunteers to package more than 60,000 meals for local food pantries.
Jim Wilmouth, chairman of the Rotary club’s annual Meals of Hope food-packaging event, said he needs about 300 volunteers to package food at noon, Saturday at the Borini Theatre at the Kings Point Clubhouse.
For the seventh year, the massive volunteer effort will provide meals for the hungry at the Good Samaritan Mission, the Beth-El Mission, Calvary Lutheran Church, St. Anne’s Catholic Church and The Lord’s Lighthouse in Ruskin.
“As the chair of this annual event, I take pride in our Sun City Center volunteers for their tremendous support each year for this project,” said Wilmouth. “Rotarians, Shriners, Lions and Kiwanians as well as members of all our religious organizations work side by side. It’s also great to see Scouts from the United Methodist Church working with seniors, with both age groups enjoying the teamwork.”
Wilmouth said the effort began seven years ago at the suggestion of Sun City Center resident Denny Hanson.
“He came to the Rotary Club with the idea of getting 250 volunteers together for a one-day event to package 50,000 meals for the needy here in southern Hillsborough County,” Wilmouth said.
The club decided to run with the project, asking for help from the community’s other clubs, churches and individuals.
“That first year was a tremendous success,” said Wilmouth. “Since then, we have packaged over 323,000 meals.”
Last year, 350 volunteers came together to package more than 65,000 meals with the help of $15,000 in donations from the Interfaith Council of Sun City Center, the South Shore Council – then known as the Community Foundation of Sun City Center, the Rotary Club of Sun City Center and other local organizations.
“We have many generous volunteers who, in addition to working a few hours, also leave a small check to fund this worthy cause,” Wilmouth said.
On the day of the event, Rotary members will set up work stations with various foods at each station.
“Volunteers will work a couple of hours and leave with pride for a job well done, a little tired but very happy they were able to help those less fortunate,” Wilmouth said, adding that the highlight of the day for him is seeing the smiles on the faces of the volunteers as they near their goal.
“I have heard many volunteers say how enjoyable it was to be asked to contribute some of their time instead of being asked to write a check,” said Wilmouth.
To volunteer for the Meals of Hope event, contact Wilmouth at (813) 634-8001 or Hanson at (813) 633-7733.
D’Ann Lawrence White is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]