Weekend Food Packs Program Receives Darden Foundation Grant
Celebration Cares received a $4,000 Good Neighbor grant from Darden Restaurants Community Grants Program. The grant will be used to purchase non-perishable food to fill 185 weekend food packs prepared every week during the school year. Children living in motels along US 192 attending Celebration K-8, Flora Ridge and Reedy Creek Elementary Schools receive weekend food packs to lessen their chance of arriving at school already hungry Monday mornings. Over weekends, the children don’t receive lunches or snacks provided by the schools when school is in session. A hungry child can’t learn.
Three local Olive Garden restaurants and a LongHorn Steakhouse selected Celebration34747Cares to receive the grant.
During summer months, Celebration Cares arranges with the school district’s Campus Grille Summer Food Service Program to serve needed lunches at motels filled with hungry children.
On Thursday afternoons, a table in the K-8 School Teachers Workroom turns into an assembly line where residents put together non-perishable weekend food packs. A high protein item such as canned chicken breasts or peanut butter is supplemented with child-friendly foods such as soup, oatmeal, applesauce and snacks. Food packs are given to children as they leave school.
Celebration Cares is grateful for the pantry space the school generously provides. Earlier this year, K-8 technology teachers Gray and Robin Guenther organized a food drive benefitting the pantry. Teachers and counselors have access to food packs all week if they identify children exhibiting signs of hunger.
Longtime Celebration Cares food pack partners include Darden Restaurants, Celebration K-8 School, Rotary Club of Celebration, Corpus Christi Catholic Church, The Celebration Foundation, Walmart, private businesses and individuals passionate about eliminating childhood hunger. Loyal Celebration resident pantry volunteers Patti Dahl, Elaine Remillard, Sharon Veley and Alex Veley ensure food packs are prepared every week. Volunteer Inece Ward travels from Clermont every Thursday to help fill food packs. Other Celebration Cares volunteers participate in the K-8 school Bookmark Buddies program designed to build reading skills of third grade students.
Celebration34747Cares, a 501(c)(3) organization operated by volunteers works to fulfill its mission, “Celebration volunteers caring for children in need by providing food, faith and hope.” Functioning with no paid staff, all funding is used for food packs. If you would like to make a contribution, serve as a volunteer or donate non-perishable food, visit www.celebration34747cares.org or send an email to
Celebration Cares has a Facebook page, Celebration34747cares, providing status updates.