Love Pantry Celebration!

On Thursday, May 30, the Christian Service Center for Central Florida hosted its first annual Love Pantry Celebration breakfast, sponsored by Florida Hospital. At the event we honored sponsors, school coordinators, volunteers, and two years’ worth of achievements. In four semesters, the Love Pantry program has grown to 63 schools with over 143,500 food items and 10,700 hygiene items helping nearly 18,000 people.

Laura Weckerle, a guidance counselor at Lake Silver Elementary, said that, “Being able to help them in such a vulnerable time of need has been an imminent blessing.”

Laura Weckerle, a guidance counselor at Lake Silver Elementary, said that, “Being able to help them in such a vulnerable time of need has been an imminent blessing.”

Lake Silver Elementary School Guidance Counselor, Laura Weckerle, shared how the Love Pantry helped her school children, and benefits them long term. “Being able to help them in such a vulnerable time of need has been a blessing,” Laura said. “One thing I didn’t expect was the sense of pride, confidence, and self worth that these kids get when they come to the pantry and they fill up their backpacks and take home food to help their brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and most of all, their parents.” She continued, “As a counselor, and as a human, that is one of the best gifts we can give them for their lives is the sense of pride and dignity—that will serve them throughout their whole lives.”

From left to right: Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Christina Savino, Robert Stuart, and Nancy Robbinson Dr. Barbara Jenkins stated that “No child should go home worrying about adult issues..."

From left to right: Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Christina Savino, Robert Stuart, and Nancy Robbinson
Dr. Barbara Jenkins stated that “No child should go home worrying about adult issues…

When Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, spoke at the celebration, she concluded her speech by saying, “No child should go home worrying about adult issues like ‘Where am I going to sleep?’ and ‘Will I have enough food?’” She continued, “There’s a Kenyan proverb that says ‘Sticks in bundles do not break’ and we’re convinced that if we bundle around our children in this community, we will get them to success.”

Robert Stuart, Executive Director of the Christian Service Center, discussed the Love Pantry’s progress. “We had this great idea of doing 10 schools. We’re going to try and do those and see if it’ll work…the assumption was it would never go beyond one semester.” Stuart expressed appreciation for the sponsors, volunteers, and others involved who have helped the Love Pantry program grow and continue its outreach in the community. “We ended at Christmas last year with 53 schools. Imagine doing zero and in just three semesters, doing 53 schools. This past semester, we added 11 new schools with special thanks to Walmart. We now have 63 pantries.”

The following volunteers were recognized for their commitment to delivering food to schools weekly.  Over 2,300 hours have been donated to the Love Pantry project to date:

From left to right: Drew Gribble, Myra Wells, Steve McDaniels, Greg Gentleman, and Robert Stuart

From left to right: Drew Gribble, Myra Wells, Steve McDaniels, Greg Gentleman, and Robert Stuart

Sue & Harold Cates, Carmen & Rosendo Fernandez, Greg & Mary Anna Gentleman, Steve & Kathy McDaniels, and Drew Gribble & Myra Wells.

The list of sponsors and partners recognized during the celebration are as follows:

Top Shelf Sponsors:

  • First Baptist Church & Love Orlando, Founding Sponsors
  • Orange County Public Schools Foundation
  • Walmart

 Second Shelf Sponsors:

  • BB&T
  • Cathedral St. Luke’s
  • Florida Hospital
  • Just In Queso Foundation
  • McCoy Federal
  • Orlando Kiwanis Foundation
  • Orlando Sentinel Family Fund
  • Universal Orlando
  • WACX-TV SuperChannel 55

Third Shelf Sponsors:

  • Lake Silver Foundation
  • Maitland Men’s Club
  • Turner Construction
  • Wells Fargo

In-Kind Partners:

  • Big Eye Creative
  • Full Sail University
  • Old Florida National Bank
  • Orlando Solar Bears
  • Second Harvest Food Bank

This Love Pantry event celebrated the success of addressing childhood hunger in Orange County, distributing over 143,500 food items through 63 Love Pantry school locations, and helping over 12,000 children in need for the last two years.

Love Pantry:  Removing hunger as a barrier to learning.

Love Pantry: Removing hunger as a barrier to learning.

 

 

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