Marco Islanders have big hearts, and that was certainly evident on Saturday morning when members of Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, the Marco Noontime Rotary, Kiwanis, the Marco Morning Rotary, Marco Island Academy, The Key Club, the City of Marco Island and the Island’s police and fire departments gathered at Veterans Park for a Neighbors Helping Neighbors event to collect food the food pantry’s weekly food pantry events. Of course, it was the local community that brought food in abundance for those in need.
Darcy Guerin from the Marco Noontime Rotary Club created and organized this new event for the island. “I had the idea—it’s not original,” Darcy Guerin said. “My son-in-law organized a similar event in Albuquerque. So, I thought, ‘Hey, I’ll try it here.’ So, I reached out to Linda Sandlin of Noontime Rotary and Dianna Dohm, who’s with the Chamber of Commerce and has all of these contacts. During Zoom times it’s a little tricky to put things together. But the City of Marco was on board, Noontime Rotary, Morning Rotary, Kiwanis, Marco Island Academy—we had all the kids there, I mean we just pulled together all the resources and that’s what happens.
“It was just an idea. I thought, ‘Wait a minute, we have a need here that so many people are not aware of.’ People think in this zip code everything is perfect—but that’s not the case at all. I know the good work that Liz Pecora and Allison, Jim and Michelle Richards at Our Daily Bread do. Tom Mann donated the tents, he’s in the Morning Rotary, he was there early setting up the tables and the tents.”
The husband and wife team Nancy and Ron McClay organized the food pantry’s truck, quickly and carefully placing the various food items into their respective categories. Marco Island Academy Key Club members did a lot of the leg work and heavy lifting. MIA Principal Melissa Scott and her Interact members were on traffic duty and helped with setting up and tear down. Firefighters were also pitching in to help the cause.
“Our Daily Bread Food Pantry is an all-volunteer community food pantry serving our neighbors in need of food assistance,” said Liz Pecora, the organization’s Director of Development & Communications. “The Neighbors Helping Neighbors Fill The Truck Food Drive is about sharing what we have with those in need. ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors’ is really about the community coming together. It is a Rotary-sponsored event.”
The Coronavirus Pandemic has escalated the need for food.
‘The pandemic has had its distinct impact,” said Nancy McClay. “Everything has changed—especially the need for food.”
“A typical pantry for us, this time of year, would be 150 families a week,” Ron McClay said. “Last week we did 950 families.”
The McClays said more and more people are visiting their “pantries” each week.
“It’s not just hourly people who are laid off,” Ron McClay said. “It’s people who work full time—even management people who have been laid off. It’s a big market out there. It’s all–encompassing.”
Marco Islanders are good givers, according to the McClays.
“Absolutely,” Ron McClay said.
There are certain food staples that are always in need at the pantry.
“We buy certain items every week,” Ron McClay said. “Peanut butter and jelly, pasta, tuna fish, canned chicken, macaroni and cheese, rice and beans. Those items people can live on, there’s protein in there, there’s things for sandwiches, there’s pasta and sauce.”
Because of demand, Our Daily Bread Food Pantry hosts “pantries” every Saturday, from 9 AM to 12 noon, at 1450 Winterberry Drive.
“We’re growing so fast,” emphasized Nancy McClay.
Our Daily Bread Food Pantry leases a building from the Family Church to house their operations. Besides recently adding a walk-in freezer, the pantry stocks hurricane supplies.
“There’s enough in there to do at least one pantry and maybe two,” Ron McClay said.
For information on how to give, visit ourdailybreadfoodpantry.com. You may also call Liz Pecora, the Director of Development & Communications, at 239-259-5188.
As for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors event, Guerin has stated, “We’ll definitely do it again. We’ve built the infrastructure, now it’s easy. The first time you organize something, it’s a lot. You have an idea, you call up the right people, and it happens. I love Marco. We are a very special place. No doubt about it. I think one reason we had such a great volunteer turnout is because people are missing each other and want to see each other.”