CRESTVIEW — Nov. 19-21, Foster Families of America Inc. will have fresh produce available for needy families. Each family may fill one bag of produce to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
Produce — donated through a program called "Crop Drop,” which collects food from local residents, grocery stores and other businesses — has included sweet and russet potatoes and pineapples in past years, but items may vary this year.
Foster Families will provide paper and canned goods for the event, which may exceed its scheduled duration, organizers said.
“With the amount (of donations) we are getting, it may last more than three days,” president and co-founder Wanda Jones said, noting that the group could handle more than 200 pounds of food items this year, 150 pounds more than past collections.
Whether collections meet that project, “We just want people to know that we are here to help for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Jones said.
The thrift store offers household staples like furniture and clothing to financially needy families. Thanksgiving week, the store will donate food baskets to families struggling to put food on the table.
“We are roughly looking at 45 families that we are going to be feeding for Thanksgiving this year,” store manager Beth Kilbourne said. Through donations from the Crestview Exchange Club, each basket should furnish a family of four’s Thanksgiving feast, said Kilbourne.
Proceeds from the store’s sales go toward fully stocking the food pantry and paying the store’s utility bills.
A portion of sales has gone to those unable to pay their own bills, including rent.
"We don't turn people away, but they do have to go through a screening process,” Jones said.
But food, shelter and clothing aside, “It’s the spiritual and emotional support we give to the community” that really makes the difference, she said.
Wanda and her late husband, Dalton, opened the store in 2006. Dalton, who was a foster child himself, initially opened the store to help needy foster families, but the mission has spread to helping every struggling family.
"We are continuing his vision of helping those that less fortunate," Jones said.
The organization works with Families First Network of Crestview and the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The store, on Main Street in downtown Crestview, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Call 423-0488 for more information.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.