Mr. Rogers said his mother’s advice for handling times of chaos was to, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” That is precisely the role the Island Country Club Charitable Foundation has played for the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry and the people it serves.
As the ranks of the unemployed have skyrocketed over the past few months due to the Coronavirus, so has demand for the Marco Island-based foodbank’s services. The foundation and the country club’s members recently stepped in to ease the charity’s financial worries with a donation of $96,000.
“We have supported the Our Daily Bread Food Pantry since they started,” said Foundation Chairman Gary Landis. “Typically, we give them about $15,000 a year. This year, because of the problems with COVID-19, we had a special fundraising drive, much like we did after Hurricane Irma when we raised $200,000 for the city. This is terrific, but what we did will buy four-or–five-months’ worth of food. I hope some of the people have gone back to work by then, but we may have to do more.”
“Our Daily Bread’s financial needs had become acute as the coronavirus’s economic chokehold grew,” said Liz Pecora, the nonprofit’s Director of Communications and Donor Relations.
The numbers tell the tale.
“Year over year, I would say it’s up 350%—quite a significant increase with the pandemic,” she explained. “And 41% of the people who visit us have never been here before, which is quite an increase. I think that really says something about the economy and the need. We’re just really grateful to be able to provide this service.”
Our Daily Bread normally serves about 100 families weekly, a total that had spiraled upward to 300 families by late April. The major infusion of cash from the foundation solidifies the Food Pantry’s ability to fulfill its mission of reducing hunger.
“Having this money on hand to buy the food that we need for our guests is everything and to have this partnership is fantastic,” stated Pecora. “Island Country Club and the generosity of their members, we’re so thankful.”
On April 20th, the foundation sent a letter to its members announcing the fund drive for the Food Pantry, seeking $20,000 in donations that would be matched by the foundation’s directors and its reserve funds. However, the contributions of 156 members exceeded the amount initially sought by $76,000.
Our Daily Bread Food Pantry primarily serves Marco, East Naples and South Naples residents, many of whom work on the island or in Goodland. There’s also a mobile pantry operated in conjunction with Allyson Richards’ “Al’s Pals” program. It serves people with limited mobility and those who can’t attend the nonprofit’s bi-weekly event known as “Pantry Day” at its Winterberry Drive headquarters.
The all-volunteer organization also operates an emergency food program, done by appointment, and a monthly Senior Lunch – Senior Pantry program for people age 60 and older; the meals provided by area restaurants. There’s also a monthly program for the elderly that provides two bags of groceries through The Harry Chapin Food Bank Care and Share supplemental food program.
For more information about the Our Daily Bread Food Bank, visit www.ourdailybreadfoodpantry.com or call 239-259-5188.