In the dictionary, under the word passionate there reads a statement: "having, showing, or expressing strong emotions or beliefs." What should be listed next: Irene O'Malley, Executive Director of Lake Cares Food Pantry.
"I've been at Lake Cares Pantry since 2010 and trust me without the volunteers and community support we get --we could not do what we do," said O'Malley.
Lake Cares Pantry distributes more than 7000 pounds of food a month to 800 families. This year more than 30,000 families will benefit from the food bank. This is an increase of 10,000 families from last year.
" We've had several food banks close this past year and those families now come to us," O'Malley said. "We picked up all of those people and our 140 volunteers and the community has not missed a beat. We answered the call to help-- for food, understanding, compassion and any other assistance they may need."
Lake Cares needs more help. Volunteers are needed to help bag the food, conduct client interviews and unload the trucks and pull wagons to the cars. In addition to man or woman power, they also need donations of money and food.
For every five dollars donated, the pantry can buy 27 pounds of food from Second Harvest. For increased purchasing power, donations made through July 25 will be matched dollar for dollar.
" Even the B.O.G.O. [Buy One Get One free promotions] which several of our supermarkets offer can help us," O'Malley said. "If people were to take advantage of those and bring the second item to us....it fills our shelves."
"You know people ask me what do I get from all the hours I spend at the pantry," O'Malley said. "I get more back from helping others than one can imagine. It fills my heart and soul."
Lake Cares is located at 2001 West Old Highway 441 in Mount Dora.
By Sharon G. Nichols
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Irene O'Malley, Executive Director of Lake Cares Food Pantry, holds a handmade thank-you card from a child the pantry feeds.
Volunteers of all ages prepare for food distribution (above & below)
Volunteers accept donations during the "One Night Stand" music festival organized by local singer, David Oliver Willis on July 16.
Above: Peanut butter and jelly was recently donated during the P.B.&J. Challenge to benefit local children in need.