Seeds of Hope is grateful for the support of the local community, including FishHawk Pinch A Penny, which made a $5,000 donation to the food bank.

In 2021, Seeds of Hope helped feed and support more families in need than ever before. The 2021 FishHawk Turkey Trot raised $50,000 for the Backpacks of Hope program, which is run out of Randall Middle School, and a total 25,000 boxes of food, which are distributed on Thursday evenings at the food bank on Bloomingdale Ave.

“Seeds of Hope has responded to multiple disasters over the years, but the pandemic has been particularly challenging,” said Seeds of Hope Founder Leda Eaton. “Because we are in food relief, we were deemed essential, but because we were all-volunteer, I didn’t know how volunteers or the community would support our efforts. Now, almost two years in, I’ve got to say I’m beyond proud of so many volunteers who stepped up, so many in our community who couldn’t help who gave financially, and for me personally, being on the front lines, seeing the tears of gratitude from the people we help made it all worth it.”

Original Story Printed February 2021.

As 2021 begins, the need for food assistance is greater than ever, but thanks to local businesses, individuals and families, Seeds of Hope is receiving support from the community.

The Rutledge family, owners of FishHawk Pinch A Penny (located at 16715 FishHawk Blvd. in the Winn-Dixie shopping center across from Newsome High School), the local neighborhood full-service pool store, recently made a $5,000 donation to the food bank.

“We have been fortunate at FishHawk Pinch A Penny to have been able to continue to operate when others have not due to the pandemic,” said Jim Rutledge. “We have been blessed and wanted to give back to our community to help those in need.”

And there is plenty of need in the community.

Demand at the food bank grew quickly in 2020, from volunteers distributing 120 boxes of food weekly in January to filling up to 680 boxes per week by December, a 466 percent increase in food distribution.

“It hasn’t been an easy feat, adding in COVID distancing, masking and safety protocols,” said Seeds of Hope Founder Leda Eaton. “Through it all we never shut down and didn’t turn one person away without food.”

Seeds of Hope has three main ways of distributing food: through a mobile food pantry for local residents, through a weekly food distribution every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at its food bank at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave. that’s open to all and through the backpack of food program coordinated with local schools.

The increased demand means that donations are more important than ever. Eaton is thankful for the support she receives from businesses like FishHawk Pinch A Penny and others.
“Together we make a difference, one person at a time,” she said.

For more information about FishHawk Pinch A Penny, which is open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., visit https://pinchapenny.com/stores/lithia-fl-191 or call 655-3700.

For more information about Seeds of Hope and its current needs, to make a financial contribution or to volunteer your time at the food bank, visit www.sohopefl.org.

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MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.