The event, first launched in 2009 at Hungerford and Cheney elementary schools—with assistance from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Food and Nutrition Services and the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF)—has grown each year.
This year, WPHF helped insure the program would be available to Winter Park Consortium school families at three sites—Hungerford and Cheney and the Winter Park Ninth Grade Center. (The Winter Park Consortium schools include Winter Park High School and its elementary and middle feeder schools.)
Consortium principals, CHILL Counselors, nurses and Healthy School Team Leaders helped spread the word to the neediest families in their schools in hopes no one would fall through the cracks and go hungry over the holidays.
Other school sites included Ivey Lane and Winegard elementary schools and Evans High School.
Food—enough to serve several hundred families at each site–was provided by Second Harvest, and volunteers included OCPS Food and Nutrition Services staff members, as well some students and teachers. A large group of energetic students staffed the Winter Park Ninth Grade Center site.
To some volunteers, the event exemplifies the meaning of Christmas. This was the case for one volunteer who has helped every year. She spotted two boys riding up on bicycles to pick up groceries. The volunteer asked if she could put the groceries in her car and follow them home so they wouldn’t have to balance them on their bikes. They nodded an enthusiastic “yes.” When she returned to the giveaway site at Hungerford, she said the boys were so grateful for the help. “This,” she said, “makes my Christmas!”