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LeeTran, Publix hold weekend food drive

By Staff | Sep 21, 2009

LeeTran parked buses at 32 Publix stores this weekend to collect food for the less fortunate.
New unemployment figures in Lee County indicate that the rate of those without a job is 13.3 percent and officials from the Harry Chapin Food Bank, which serves 90 non-profits in Lee County, said that more than 20,000 people each month are depending on them to feed their families – an 82 percent increase from 2007.
“The community has already been very generous in the fight against hunger,” said Transit Director Steve Myers. “But with so many extra feeding stations open during the summer, the pantries need restocking again for the fall.”
The food drive operated from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at local Publix stores where shoppers were asked to purchase non-perishable items to donate. Volunteer Tammy Powell, stationed at the Publix on Del Prado Boulevard, suggested that shoppers utilize a buy one, get one free special so that one of the items could be donated.
Two ninth-grade students from Ida S. Baker High, Jessica Powell and Mollie Chappelle, volunteered their Sunday afternoon to help collect food.
“A lot of people are in need,” said Chappelle.
Volunteers also collected $80 in cash donations that would be used by the two students to shop for additional items, said Tammy Powell.
“We raised money and the girls are going to shop at 2 p.m.,” she said.
Both of the students volunteered their time on Sunday to satisfy an Ida S. Baker High requirement that all students work 42 hours of community service to graduate. In order for students to be eligible for scholarships, such as the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, they have to donate 72 hours to helping the community.
“I think it’s good, I don’t mind volunteering my time,” said Jessica Powell.
Approximately half-way through the drive, volunteers had already collected 15 boxes worth of food. The goal for the day was to fill a LeeTran bus and then transport the boxes to the food bank’s warehouse on Fowler Street in Fort Myers. Tammy Powell pointed out that LeeTran held another food drive four-months-ago.
Officials from the Harry Chapin Food Bank said they are hoping for a huge turnout at the food drive.
“We’re hoping for the same outpouring of support that we experienced in the Letter Carriers Food Drive in May,” said Joyce Jacobs, a food bank associate. “There are so many people who need our help.”