By Kathy L. Collins

Seeds of Hope is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides much needed food assistance to residents of Southeast Hillsborough County. Recently, Seeds of Hope was recognized for the good work it does in the community when its founder, Leda Eaton, was presented with a $20,000 grant from General Mills.

The mission of Seeds of Hope is to provide help to local people in need and meaningful community service hours to students.

Kathy Ballance, a long time volunteer of Seeds of Hope, works for General Mills. The company has been in business for 150 years. In celebration of this, General Mills allowed employees to nominate a non-profit. Seeds of Hope was selected from hundreds of nominees and was one of 70 non-profits from across the country to be awarded a $20,000 grant.

Robin Sawyer, category manager for General Mills, said, “We know Seeds of Hope will put the money to good use.” Scott Nevitt, customer manager for General Mills added, “These grants are not easy to get.”

Eaton said, “The part I love about Seeds of Hope is the dual focus, giving students the opportunity to get quality volunteer service hours and helping those in need in the community. Many do not know that the Lithia area has had a high number of residents applying for food assistance in the past few years.”

Seeds of Hope provides assistance in three main ways. The first is through weekly food distribution on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon. The second is by providing a backpack full of food for children and their families on the weekends and over school holidays. The third is through a mobile food pantry. This is a one to one food distribution system.

Nic Ballance and Olivia Gutierrez are student volunteers. Ballance said, “It is meaningful service hours.” Gutierrez said, “This gives students a good perspective. You can see and value what you have and what others do not.”

You can get more information on Seeds of Hope by visiting www.sohopefl.org or by calling 489-4599. You can also follow Seeds of Hope on Facebook.