Seeds of Hope Founder Leda Eaton (center) with food bank volunteers (from the left) Gabriel Rodriguez, Luke LaFrance, Sebastian Rodriguez and Dylan Higham.

By Linda Chion Kenney

Driven to “nourish hope among people in need through the actions and help provided by our local students,” Seeds of Hope has adopted drive-through services to ensure folks who need food can get it while volunteers keep their social distance.

Drive-through distribution has been instituted at the food bank every Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon, in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale. Meanwhile, drive-through collection drives took place at Bevis Elementary School throughout March.

Additional drives and distributions are updated as needed on the Seeds of Hope Facebook page.

“I think it’s nice; everybody sits in their car, drives by and volunteers put the food in your trunk,” said Ellis ‘Lois’ Donaldson, a Seeds of Hope beneficiary.

“It’s efficient and it works really well,” added Sebastian Rodriguez, a Newsome High freshman. “For me personally, and most of the kids here, we take this seriously because people come here every week for food, and if we’re not here they can’t feed themselves or their families.”

After cutting its teeth on Hurricane Irma, the all-volunteer Seeds of Hope charity, established 10 years ago in Lithia, is faced again with another major crisis, with Founder Leda Eaton at the helm working tirelessly alongside volunteers to meet the needs of neighbors.

“People look to us as a leading organization that can take care of this situation,” Eaton said. “One thing I’ve learned from Hurricane Irma, there’s an energy to this that’s unique. Tomorrow will be taken care of. I don’t worry about that. Our job is to do what we can today to get to tomorrow.”

Toward that end, volunteer students have been involved in a myriad of recent activities, including unloading and sorting food from Feeding Tampa Bay and a food distribution drive-through at Pinecrest Elementary School.

Seeds of Hope is a registered 501(c)(3), charitable, all-volunteer organization which also provides a mobile pantry “that silently takes care of local needs” and a backpack program for students to ensure food security for students and their families. The food bank does not require people in need to show identification or verification.

For more information and to donate, visit www.sohopefl.org.