Yes, we can

By: 
Nov. 25, 2010

The Feed Flagler food drive raised about $13,000. About 2,000 meals were prepared, and groceries were given to 400 families.

It might not be politically correct to call women “chicks,” but the Feed Flagler food drive competition was not about politics. The winning team, collecting 4,000 pounds of food, was called Chicks With Cans.

“Our community is coming together and does want to help — in some cases until it hurts — barely having enough to take care of their own family,” wrote Sandra Mullen, who participated on the team. “My faith in our community — the human race — has been reinstated, and my opinion and heart have grown because of it. I’m truly amazed.”

She said the team spent two days in front of the grocery stories and collected food from shoppers.

“We collected more food than I ever thought possible,” she said.

In second place in the food drive were the employees of the Flagler County government, and in third place was the Flagler County School Board.

Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston raised the most money in the competition, totaling $3,400. Johnston decorated her Palm Coast office and the office in the Government Services Building with paper turkeys bearing the names of each contributor.

Flagler County Public Information Officer Carl Laundrie said one person asked Johnston how much he should write the check for. She responded that $1 would be great — whatever he could afford. The man wrote a check for $300.

Other large contributors include Bug Guard Services and Johns Auto Parts, contributing $1,000 each. Many individuals and businesses also contributed $500 each.

The food drive raised a total of about $13,000, which was used to feed about 2,000 families before Thanksgiving, in 10 locations throughout the county.

Event united community

County Commissioner Milissa Holland was instrumental in coordinating the event.

“Without hesitation, there was a sense of giving — without territorial thought or dialogue at all,” Holland said. “It was really more about collaboration and cooperation and partnering with the different church organizations and forming all these cluster networks to get it out to their congregations.”

Second-annual event

The Community Thanksgiving Dinner, prepared by Hammock Dunes chefs, built on last year’s event, which was only at two locations and was put together in just three weeks.

Holland said she had the idea after listening to a story about a Palm Coast family who had to bathe children in a swale because the water in the home had been shut off.

Holland thought back to her time growing up in New York City. Her father was a fashion designer and always was involved in the Macy’s Day Parade. On every block, she noticed the homeless population, and she and her family volunteered together to help. Inspired by those memories, Holland helped organize Feed Flagler, with County Administrator Craig Coffey’s help.

Last year, Holland said, there were more volunteers than they knew what to do with and not as much attendance as they would have liked. In the end, event organizers delivered many meals to churches.

This year, the goal was to make it about the individual communities. “We’re such a large county, and we’re such a diverse community, so it was about getting neighbors to know neighbors and getting out and breaking bread with different walks of life,” Holland said.

In addition, the organizers wanted to provide every resident that attended the Community Thanksgiving Celebration with a bag of groceries. Thus, a nonperishable food drive was added, yielding food a week of groceries for 400 families.

’Tis the season

Feed Flagler was not the only food drive this season. Pastor Charles Silano, of Grace Community Food Pantry, said he has been receiving donations all month.

“I love this time of year,” he said. “It’s been very exciting. It’s just great to see the whole community contributing.”

Silano said one of the biggest surprises this season was a $1,000 check sent to the pantry from Sen. John Mica.

CREATIVE FUNDRAISING

How much would it take for you to cut your hair into a Mohawk? For Buddy Taylor Middle School Assistant Principal Nathan Lovelette, it was $180, and he didn’t get a dime of it.

Lovelette won a schoolwide competition to raise money. The winner got to choose what charity the proceeds went to (Lovelette chose Feed Flagler as his charity), but also had to get his hair cut into a Mohawk.

The students raised $180. The amount raised by the students was even more remarkable considering 62% of the students are on reduced lunch.

Principal Winnie Oden presented a check to Flagler County Commissioner Milissa Holland, and Lovelette came to school Monday Nov. 15, with his new ’do.