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Seniors lead drive for funds and food

Seniors at the Mayflower Retirement Community are competing to be the most giving.

Seniors at the Mayflower Retirement Community are competing to be the most giving.

Kristy Vickery

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Soups, pastas, beans, Jell-O, condiments, rice, and crackers rise in a mountain at the front of the Mayflower Retirement Community’s Standish Center, looking like a year’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. But it only cost $100 to help Second Harvest Food Bank feed many Central Florida families in need.

This is not a normal Second Harvest Food Bank drive though; this year the organization is partnering with the whole community to Feed the Need through community-wide events to raise funds, instead of food items; and the fund drive will start with the fabric of our community – seniors.

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JANA RICCI

The soft launch for the fund drive began this week at the Mayflower Retirement Community, where the resident retirees will compete between buildings A, B and the Villas to see who can raise the most money.

“I think this is a wonderful charity and I’ve supported them for years,” Mayflower Retirement Community resident Elizabeth Brothers said. “The Mayflower has a lot of outreach in the community, so this is not new to us; it’s just a little different wrinkle.”

The Mayflower Retirement Community will be the first place the fund drive begins, although it won’t be the last. The city of Winter Park, the Chamber of Commerce, Rollins College, Winter Park Memorial Hospital and Sodexo are all partnering together to sponsor this community-wide event.

“We’ve always done some kind of food drive in the past … but it’s never really been a combined effort, so when this was presented through the Chamber, it just seemed like a perfect fit that we could do something on a bigger scale,” Mayflower’s Director of Marketing Jana Ricci said.

This year the emphasis is being placed on funds, instead of food items, because the buying power is so much greater.

“You’re getting so much more than if you just bring in canned goods bought retail at the grocery store,” Winter Park City Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel said. “And it’s so exciting to have the whole community come together.”

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JANA RICCI

For every $1 given to Second Harvest Food Bank, a possible $9 worth of food can be purchased, and 97.3 percent of the funds contributed to the organization goes to providing food to the one-in-four children or one-in-five seniors in Central Florida who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

“They (the community) realize what they can do when they come together,” Second Harvest Food Bank Development Manager Sasha Hausman said. “And it’s really great that the Mayflower is serving as leader, because if the Mayflower is involved then certainly other people will follow suit.”

The whole community will then join in at the official kickoff in front of City Hall on Oct. 31.

“The Chamber is really excited to be part of helping lead this mission, because it’s the first time that a community is coming together to help Second Harvest Food Bank,” Winter Park Chamber of Commerce President Patrick Chapin said. “And the Mayflower and their residents have been very supportive in the past, in terms of getting behind causes, so one of the reasons we decided to do the soft-launch at the Mayflower is to get the residents excited and have them help set the tone.”

Setting the tone for the community is exactly what the Mayflower Retirement Community hopes to do, as they compete to bring food to tables across Central Florida.

“The Mayflower’s a great place to start,” Sprinkel said. “It’s a place where the people really care about each other and about our community.”