By JAMIE WILLIAMS
AVON PARK — On Wednesday, the Avon Park Noon Rotary Club, in conjunction with Winn-Dixie and Hendricks Grocery in Avon Park, provided 60 families in Avon Park for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Rotary recognized Bill Jarrett, who agreed to put the groceries purchased from Winn-Dixie on his personal account. That and the food that was donated by Winn-Dixie allowed for more food to be put in each bag than what was originally planned.
The only thing that was missing from the food bags was the turkey. That was taken care of by Hendricks Grocery and Meats in Avon Park. Each bag contained a $15 gift certificate, provided by Hendrick’s, to purchase a turkey at the store.
Members of the Rotary showed up early on Wednesday to put the bags together and get them ready for distribution.
Noting that a great deal of people think it is hard to put something like this together, colleagues distinguished the generosity of the Rotary membership and Jarrett in making the process easy.
All they had to do was place the order on a piece a paper and Winn-Dixie put the order together for them.
Of the 60 meals, 40 were slotted for the residents at the Housing Authority in Avon Park (HAAP).
Names of the recipients were provided by Rotary member Larry Shoeman of the HAAP, who organized them in order of the greatest need.
“We identify the neediest by our rent roll,” Shoeman said. “The ones that pay the least amount of rent, because they pay 30 percent of their adjusted income, so that is our first plateau.”
“We then looked at their at their occupancy history,” continued Shoeman. “Are they good tenants, do they do community service, do they comply with their lease, so we verify they are a good tenant. We then verify the auspices and living conditions to substantiate that they are indeed desperate and then they go on our list.”
There are currently 284 families that reside at the HAAP.
For the ones that cannot be delivered to the homes at the (HAAP), Shoeman established at a pick-up point at transitional housing office.
The other 20 meals were delivered to people that were identified by the Church Service Center in Avon Park as in being in need.
Members of the Rotary loaded the meals in their cars and went out for delivery. Similar to the HAAP, those meals that could not be delivered would be taken to the Church Service Center for pick-up.
“The Church Service Center works in combination Landmark Hotel, which is an overnight shelter arrangement,” Shoeman said. “Other people that they know are participating on Meals on Wheels that are very limited on their income and have a need, so that list comes from them.”
Shoeman said that with so many in need and limited resources, they try not give to the same family every year.
“We have the list from last year and unless there is something so desperate that there is a need for a reoccurrence, we try to give to another family.”
Union Church holds a major dinner for those in need and did not receive a holiday meal package.