PINE HILLS, Fla. — While coronavirus cases rise, so are the number of stories of people helping people here in our communities.
Orange County is third in the state when it comes to unemployment. That’s why a local organization and its volunteers are stepping up to provide free meals for people in the Pine Hills area.
For the last 21 weeks, Valerie Ellington has spent her Thursday mornings in parking lot in Pine Hills, volunteering her time passing out free food to people who lost their jobs due to the impacts of the Coronavirus.
“I know what it is when you are not working, when you have children to feed, when you have bills and none of that is getting through and you are not getting any help,” Ellington said.
That’s why Ellington keeps coming back, to help be a guide to the 900 people they give food to each week.
Donna Van Dyke and her husband Mike are two of those 900. They have been coming to pick up food at the giveaway location on Silver Star road for about a month.
“If it wasn’t for places like this I wouldn’t have any money for food at all,” Donna Van Dyke said.
Van Dyke said her son typically provides help to the family but he has been furloughed. She mentioned her family is grateful to the volunteers.
“They don’t know how important they are, they are wonderful, they are God’s angels,” she added.
Sandra Fatmi-Hall is the Executive Director and Founder of United Foundation of Central Florida, the parent organization heading up this free food giveaway. So far they’ve fed 14,600 families, 73,000 individuals.
“This has been a ministry now, a blessing and I thankful for the genuine people who care, they are not just saying they care they are stepping up with their money and their time and this means a whole lot,” Fatmi-Hall said.
It especially means a lot to volunteers, like Ellington, who keep coming back each week, helping out any way they can.
“It touches my heart to know that there are people who know that they can depend on this Organization to help them out,” Ellington said.
A special food giveaway is set for Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 10 a.m., located at 6003 Silver Star Road.