December 14, 2016
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
By: Jessica Roberts
HOLIDAY MIRACLES ABOUND WITHIN FOOD FOR THOUGHT SERVICES
Local Nonprofit Supplies Meals and Cheer to Those in Need
Holiday miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Spend one day in one of the Food For Thought Outreach Pantries and you’ll see miracles one after another and just maybe you’ll feel your heart grow three sizes.Food For Thought has grown so rapidly and by such leaps and bounds over the last year, many supply and food providers can’t keep up with demand. This is where you see one of the first miracles. Through social networking and community connections, a quick Facebook post alerted the community to the fact that Food For Thought was not going to receive the over 1,000 necessary paper grocery bags in time for their Holiday preparations. Within an hour, Winn Dixie in Miramar Beach offered to donate the needed bags. Miracle.
Food For Thought has grown from feeding 6 students in their first year, to feeding 1,620 children each week of this current school year. That’s a 400% growth over the last three years and over 700 additional students from this time last year. Food For Thought provides these children with weekly backpacks of healthy, easy to prepare food items to close the gap between missed meals over the weekends. During school breaks, the organization continues their work. Food For Thought provides enough food to cover every meal missed over the school break which equates to at least 26 meals that the school would have provided on the free and reduced lunch program plus a traditional holiday meal for the family to share. Miracle.This Winter Break, Food For Thought will help feed 500 families across Okaloosa and Walton Counties from Freeport to Fort Walton Beach. Over 500 gifts have been donated, another 200 books, and countless volunteer hours have been logged during one of the busiest times of the year. Wells Fargo chose to volunteer at both pantries over two days. Sundog Books in Seaside, FL brought food and books for the students. The Tree House Montessori School had their younger students come by to learn about volunteering and donated toiletry kits. More and more additional donations (pleasantly) surprised the staff and volunteers during their open donation times. Miracle. Miracle. Miracles.
During the holidays, there are many organizations in need. So, why Food For Thought? Erica Gibson Pierce, Vice President of Seaside Associated Stores, is quick to respond."Seaside Associated Stores has always been a company that strives to give back to the community. Food For Thought is near and dear to us because it addresses such a great need for Walton County students. Food For Thought provides the only meals that some kids have access to over the holidays. The entire staff receives so much joy in being part of this amazing Christmas give back and this is why we’ve been a part of this organization for the last three years and beyond."
“Every year, every week we hear stories from our volunteers, teachers, and counselors that these services are small miracles. Our holiday service distributions are some of the most fulfilling and emotional moments all year long. These families not only get to bring food home, but also get to bring gifts, books, and hope,” says Tiffanie Nelson, Founder and Executive Director of Food For Thought Outreach.The organization provides four different pick up locations throughout their service area to help minimize transportation issues. Local businesses and organizations have stepped up in a big way to support the local nonprofit’s mission. All toys and books are donated each year and several area partners help to contribute food. Walmart of South Walton hosted their annual food drive again this year helping to secure the food items needed and helping to promote the organization throughout the local community. Beachy Beach 30A hosted a wrapping party and donated gifts and continue to help year after year to make sure every kid receives a gift. Miracle.
Although, the organization has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support this year - their job is not done. Food For Thought needs your continued support to help restock and replenish their pantries. Incredibly, you can feed a child for the Spring semester for just $90.To support Food For Thought Outreach for your End of Year Giving or to join the FFT Membership program to support a child for the Spring semester, please email email@example.com or visit fftfl.org to donate.About Food For Thought Outreach
Food For Thought is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL that provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy to prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals. Our goal is to support a child’s development and educational experience by bridging the gap between school meals during weekends and holiday breaks. Food For Thought has been working to fight child hunger since 2010, and currently serves 21 schools in Walton and Okaloosa Counties, providing backpacks for 1,620 students each week. For more information, such as donation locations, pantry items needed, and opportunities to volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.About Seaside® Associated Stores
The Seaside Style is the official lifestyle brand of Seaside, FL. Their collection includes clothing, accessories, spa, gifts, books, toys, and pet items that reflect the style of Seaside; simple, timeless, comfortable and fun.