LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Without their free breakfast or lunch at school, many Manatee County children spend their summer days hungry. Changing that is one of the goals of TechHouse's Summer Harvest Food Drive 2013.
"In the Title One schools, the kids aren't getting that food," said Cindy Sloan, director of the Food Bank of Manatee. "What we see is that our pantries are having a lot more families coming in to ask for assistance during the summer. Hunger does not take the summer off."
Everyone is ready to give in November and December, Sloan said, but "it's my job to teach people we could really use their help in spring and summer, too. TechHouse listened. Now they're doing their food drive when we need it."
This is the sixth year TechHouse, a computer consulting business, took the challenge to lead its Fighting Hunger crusade by designing a campaign
and collecting donations for the Food Bank of Manatee and Sarasota's All Faiths Food Bank.
"If everyone's going to have an equal opportunity, we need to present that, and hunger's a basic problem that really shouldn't be out there," said Kathy Durfee, CEO and founder of TechHouse. "I'd like to try to help. I can't eliminate it, but if we go there, we can lessen it for sure."
Every year the company gives 10 percent of earnings to charity. She and team member Anne Marie Young were talking about ways to make a difference when they decided to confront hunger.
"We were talking about making a big difference, and we got into big, meaning basic and fundamental, and that really led us to the food drive. It's not very big, but it's very fundamental," Durfee said. "I think it's fun too. Each year we're trying to make the posters a little more interesting."
This year they gathered a team of children to help design the posters and slogans such as, "When you do something nice, you are rewarded for life," by Angela Lopez, 7, and Lucas Villegas, 11.
The public can drop off donations for the food banks and, new this year, for animal rescue groups including Safe Haven Animal Rescue and the Lakewood Ranch, Manatee and Sarasota humane societies. Locations include TechHouse, 6910 Professional Parkway E., Lakewood Ranch; Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, 10715 Rodeo Dr., Lakewood Ranch; ComCenter Lakewood Ranch, 9040 Town Center Parkway, Bradenton; ComCenter 70, 6150 State Road 70 E., Bradenton; Lakewood Ranch Humane Society, 7334 Trade Court, Sarasota; or Stantec, 6900 Professional Parkway E., Suite 100, Sarasota.
Anyone interested in participating in this food drive can do so by contacting TechHouse at 941-328-8601 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024. Follow her on Twitter @DeeGrahamBH.