Save Our Summer – Feed the Cape:
Every year it seems, more Cape Coral residents do more to help those who are in the greatest need. For they realize that while many in the city live in paradise, others are living in their cars next door, wondering where their next meal will come from.
Wednesday, many of the city’s biggest givers and dignitaries gathered at Rumrunners in Cape Harbour for the fourth Save Our Summer – Feed the Cape kickoff event to collect food and financial donations to benefit the Cape Coral Caring Center.
And the community again came up big for the 4C, raising $27,000 in cash donations (with $20,000 coming from a single source), as well as 8,000 pounds of food delivered by Midwest Food Bank.
Julie Ferguson, Cape Coral Caring Center executive director, said it would take that and much more for them to fulfill their goal of feeding Cape Coral’s hungriest families this summer, when children are unable to get the free breakfasts and lunches from school.
“We gave out 79 tons of food last year and expect to give out more this year, so we will need to have continued donations throughout the summer,” Ferguson said.
The campaign raises food and financial donations to benefit the center, which typically experiences an increase in the clients it serves during summer months but a downturn in pantry goods and monetary donations.
Many of Cape Coral’s heavy hitters were at the event, including Mayor Marni Sawicki, who said the 4C does a great job in bringing awareness to the hunger problem.
“We don’t have a lot of awareness in our city about the need. This organization does so much to bring food to these kids and give them support,” Sawicki said.
“It solves a problem a lot of people in this city don’t realize exists. It’s great way to give back. You can help by simply bringing canned goods to a drop off,” said Gloria Tate of Raso Realty, which is among the drop-off locations.
Christopher Spiro, of Spiro & Associates, hosted the event. He said a group of people got together in 2012 and decided they needed to do something to help the children during the summer. Every year, it’s gotten bigger.
“We already exceeded our cash by $10,000 from last year and matched the total food donation for just the kickoff.” Spiro said. “You didn’t see any ads to promote this, nothing on TV. These are people who are part of a network that get dirty and make things happen in Cape Coral.”
Among those who made a donation was Kelsi Bevington on behalf of Junior Leadership of Cape Coral, who presented Spiro with a $2,000 check.
The North Fort Myers High School junior and her group gave a presentation to show what her group is about.
“We talked to families who lost their jobs and really connect with those who come in and work there,” Bevington said. “Florida has the wealthiest zip codes and yet we don’t see the need in the community because we don’t realize it’s happening in our backyard.”
The big givers were the Cape Coral Kiwanis, which gave Spiro a check for $20,000, and the Midwest Food Bank, which had Paul Csotty give the center 8,000 pounds of food.
“The fact is the Cape Coral Caring Center knows how to take advantage of that $20,000 and turn it into $60,000 worth of food. Not just processed junk, but good food to feed these kids during the summer,” said Mick Sheldrake of the Kiwanis, which does a lot with the 4C.
Perhaps the secret is also the fact there is very little overhead in getting the event started. Just a bunch of people who want to use their powers for good.
“We have no board, or organization or meetings. It’s just a half dozen of us getting together to raise money and food for those less fortunate,” Spiro said. “This is the best kickoff we’ve had, but understand that at school, that was the kids’ only hot meal of the day. Many of them would line their pockets with foil to take home food to feed the family.”
The next big event will be a returning favorite — the Feed the Cape Summer Smackdown.
Participating organizations will meet at the Dixie Roadhouse on June 23 in a head-to-head battle to determine which one can best deliver a “knockout punch” to hunger.
Organizations already lined up include the Rotary Clubs of Cape Coral, the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association, the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, LCEC, SCHEA (the South Cape Hospitality Entertainment Association), the Cape Coral/Greater Fort Myers & the Beach Realtor Association and the Cape Coral Kiwanis Club.
Participating groups will encourage their respective teams to collect donations up to and through the “smackdown” to begin at 5 p.m at the Dixie with the team that brings in the most named the winner.
Meanwhile, there are SOS boxes throughout the Cape.
Donations of food, staples, other essentials like diapers and pet food, grocery store gift cards and, of course, cash is welcome.
For more information, call the Cape Coral Caring Center at 945-1927. Visit capecoracaringcenter.org for a list of all the dropoff points for donations or to make a donation; visit FeedtheCape.com or follow online at facebook.com/capecoralcaringcenter.