Citrus County Blessings, a local nonprofit dedicated to hunger relief, received a $1,500 grant through The Wawa Foundation.
Wawa staff members have been committed volunteers for Citrus County Blessings through special holiday packings, regular bag packings, and unloading food on delivery day. They also provide nonperishable food donations when available.
“We love having Wawa and the wonderful culture they bring in our community,” said Christina Reed, executive director of Blessings. “They have been so supportive with any request we have made, whether for volunteers or grant opportunities. Even before the store opened, their staff was in our pantry packing bags for our local children in need.”
The Citrus Memorial Hospital Internal Medicine residents wanted to give back in a small way. They had a pumpkin carving contest to raise money for Citrus County Blessings. With pumpkins in short supply they had to get creative with a few watermelons!
“We are so happy that we are able to support this great organization and hope our small contribution can be a blessing to children in need.”
Genevieve Kennedy’s first memory of charity was when a member of her old youth group asked her dad to buy basic bathroom goods they couldn’t afford.
Seeing a Citrus County neighbor having trouble getting things others might take for granted helped inspire Genevieve to find her own path toward giving back to her community.
Most recently, the 17-year-old Crystal River High School senior was able to secure a $5,000 donation from Arnie and Diane Ross, of the San Francisco Fund, to be split between the Citrus County Education Foundation (CCEF) and Citrus County Blessings.
Since her freshman year, Genevieve has partnered with Blessings and the CCEF to bring more personal items, food and school supplies closer to children and families who need them.
“These are two great organizations to help volunteer for,” Genevieve said.
CCEF Executive Director Shaunda Burdette and Blessings Executive Director Christina Reed said Genevieve’s selflessness motivates other students to lend their struggling classmates a hand.
“It helps to normalize it, and it helps those students feel more comfortable asking for assistance and receiving that assistance,” Reed said. “The more students we get involved, the better it’s going to be for us.”
“It’s so important to have a voice from the frontline,” Burdette added.
Genevieve is the chair of the Blessings board of directors’ high school student representative group for the nonprofit.
Reed and Burdette said Genevieve’s ability to provide aid without expressing a hint of judgement is invaluable when it comes to building a relationship between those unconfident or unsure to ask for assistance.
“There’s integrity and trust there so students an adults will come to her if they have needs,” Burdette said, “and that’s what sets her apart from other school leaders — her compassion without judgement.”
Florida Southern College accepted Genevieve into its bachelors of nursing program for next fall.
Genevieve — a two-time semifinalist of the FHSAA Swimming and Diving State Championships for Class 2A — said she might get into the pool to compete for her next school.
Burdette and Reed said nonprofits countywide are uniting to coordinate their array of services and target those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 era.
“We’re definitely doing a whole lot more than we ever knew we could,” Burdette said. “There’s always a need that’s out there for us.”
With each endeavor the organizations take to meet growing and varied demands, Citrus County is right behind them.
“It’s just been amazing,” Reed said. “Our numbers are rising, but our needs are being met.”
Members of the organization VFW hold a long-standing history of volunteerism in their communities. Not only have they served their country, but they continue to serve their fellow veterans, families, and communities. On Tuesday, September 29th, they celebrated "VFW Day" and presented Citrus County Blessings with a check for $500 in support of our programs. Post 10087 and it's members have been generous advocates for Citrus County Blessings for the past 4 years. We appreciate their support and service to our country.
On Sept. 23, West Citrus Elks Lodge 2693 volunteers met for the monthly session of packaging weekend food for children.
Using Florida State Elks Association matching funds from the Elks National Foundation
Beacon Grant, the lodge presented the Citrus County Blessings organization in Lecanto, Florida, with a check for $1,000. Blessings is a group that supplies children from all of Citrus County with food to eat on the weekends.
Lodge members and Blessings personnel at the check presentation are Sandy Hendron; Jeanne Brier; Gail Bockario, assistant vice chair of Blessings; Christina Reed, executive director of blessings; Donna Hayes; Ed James; Kris Estus; Brian Estus; and Cheryl Brett.
So many people use Amazon, and if you're like us, more than you'd like to admit! With AmazonSmile, you can select a charity to give back as you shop.
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You can change your charity any time. Your AmazonSmile purchases after the change count towards your newly selected charity. To change your charity on your web browser, simply select "Change your Charity" in "Your Account." You can also visit AmazonSmile under settings on your Amazon Shopping app and select "Change your Charity."
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