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Brandon News: Woman lauded for her charity efforts

Brandon News: Woman lauded for her charity efforts

BY Linda Chion Kenney
Special Correspondent
Published: March 18, 2015  Click to original article

Surrounded by her peers from the GFWC Brandon Service League, Jean Ippolito still had no clue she was about to receive a coveted community service award for her many volunteer associations.

The occasion was the annual Community Affairs Dinner, hosted by the Community Roundtable of Brandon in February, at Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association in Brandon. There, Dave Braun, a former honorary mayor of Brandon and last year’s recipient of the Roundtable’s Alice B. Tompkins Community Service Award, was about to announce his successor.

“He said our recipient is a member of the Brandon Service League and I looked to one of my friends and said, ‘Oh, good, it’s one of us,” Ippolito said, adding that she had been surprised to see so many of her fellow club members in attendance.

Ippolito had been the invited guest of club president Sandy Pullinger, who received the Alice B. Tompkins award in 2011, followed by Tammy Holmberg and Betty Jo Tompkins. The award was first given in 1975 to Patricia B. Odiorne, followed by Dick Stowers a year later and the award’s namesake, in 1976.

Only when Braun got deeper into his recitation of this year’s recipient’s background did Ippolito realize she was the intended honoree, which in turn was the reason for the club’s strong turnout.

“I was dumbfounded. I was God-smacked,” Ippolito said about the award, named posthumously for a former editor of the Brandon News. “There are many, many people who do so much more than I do, so I’m quite humbled by it.”

Ippolito’s modesty belies her breadth of volunteerism, which extends way beyond her long-term affiliation with the Brandon Service League, for which she serves as education chair and has worked with OASIS, a nonprofit that provides clothing, shoes and personal hygiene products for students and their families.

She previously chaired the league’s Very Special Arts Festival, founded by Alice Storms and held annually at the First Baptist Church of Brandon, which invites kindergartners with disabilities from the Greater Brandon area to engage in specially designed arts and crafts activities.

“It’s a very interesting life, I can tell you that,” said Ippolito, who retired from the School District of Hillsborough County after 33 years of service, including a stint as administrative secretary for Earl Lennard, then the assistant superintendent for technical and adult education, who at the Roundtable dinner gave the keynote address.

Ippolito’s recognition brings notice to some of the Greater Brandon area’s most noble undertakings.

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Brandon News: ECHO opens doors for tours

Brandon News: ECHO opens doors for tours
BY Barbara Routen
Special Correspondent
Published: March 18, 2015  Click here for story. 

— Individuals, organizations and groups are invited on a tour of the Emergency Care Help Organization to see what it is and what it does for the community.

“People often give to food and clothing pantries but may wonder what happens to their donation or what happened in a person’s life to cause them to end up in need. ECHO is now offering tours designed to educate the community on the services ECHO offers and the community they serve in Eastern Hillsborough County,” said Laura Young, donor relations manager.

The hourlong Discover ECHO tours are free and make no donation appeals, said Young. They include a tour of the facilities as well as information on emergency services, educational programs and the career assistance program.

Depending on the time of day, tours may include a light breakfast or lunch.

Individuals should register online at www.echofl .org or by contacting Young at laura@echofl .org or (813) 685-0935, ext. 8008. Private tours for groups of 8 to 18 may be arranged by calling or emailing ECHO.

ECHO provides food and clothing to people in crisis situations in 15 ZIP-code areas, including newly added Thonotosassa.

ECHO also helps “clients with creating or updating their resume, applying for jobs, interview preparation and even transferable skills analysis, if appropriate,” said ECHO Executive Director Stacey Efaw. “We also offer a flexible GED prep program and some very popular classes such as Healthy Living, Mommy & Me, Basic Financial Literacy and Basic Computer Literacy.”

Individuals with immediate needs for services may visit ECHO between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They should bring photo ID, proof of local residency and a Social Security card for each family member.

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ABC Action News: Gift of Hope helps families celebrate Thanksgiving

ABC Action News: Gift of Hope helps families celebrate Thanksgiving
11:11 AM, Nov 22, 2014

BRANDON, Fla – Responding to the great need in our community, several churches in the Greater Brandon area are partnering withECHO once again this holiday season in sponsoring “Gift of Hope ,” which is supplying everything that is needed to make a great Thanksgiving meal for some 500 families — complete with turkey and all the fixings!

The give-away began Friday, with volunteers from Brandon area Churches, civic groups and Mosaic (who donated a truck-load of Turkeys and Chickens for those in need

But there’s more giving on the way… in less than a month, they’ll crank up the give-away at the First Baptist Church in Brandon for Christmas.  At that time, not only will the families receive the items needed to make a great Christmas meal, but also have the opportunity to shop for toys for each of their children!

Donations are always welcome!  For more information, or to donate, click on the Gift of Hope page for locations and sponsors.

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Tribune: A box of this, a can of that will Feed the Bay

Tribune: A box of this, a can of that will Feed the Bay

Tribune staff
Published: March 21, 2014


BRANDON — Several thousand churchgoers will change out of their Sunday best and into their Feed the Bay T-shirts this weekend in time for the annual food drive.

Feed the Bay, in its ninth year, is a partnership between 34 local churches, most of them in the eastern part of the county, and 17 charitable agencies.

During Sunday services, the churches will hand out grocery lists compiled by participating agencies, including such organizations as Metropolitan Ministries and the Emergency Care Help Organization, or ECHO.

Volunteers will make their way to the grocery store after church, stock up on some of the items on the list and deposit their bags by 2 p.m. onto trucks at 19 Publix locations.

The trucks then will head back to the food banks, which will be ready to distribute the new items Monday.

“It’s really the easiest way to serve,” said Melanie Langston, Feed the Bay coordinator for Bay Life Church. Anyone can participate, not just church members, she said.

The list of requests includes more than 30 items ranging from toiletries to canned goods to crackers and cereal.

People are encouraged only to buy what they can afford to donate, said Debbie Weisemann, a team leader from Bell Shoals Baptist Church.

“Between you buying and me buying and other people buying, we got it,” she said.

Feed the Bay was started in 2006 by Brandon’s Bay Life Church and has collected more than a million pounds of food, toiletries and store gift cards through the years.

The event is held before Easter every year as a way to help the food banks restock after they begin to run out of the items they collect during the holiday season.

The goal is to expand the event throughout all of Hillsborough County and then statewide, Weisemann said.

Feed the Bay has grown, but the event stays true to the original mission, she said.

“The basic theme is always pretty much the same,” she said. “Really taking time to, first of all, pray for those that are walking through different times, and then going and doing something about it.”

To find out more about Feed the Bay donation locations, go to
(813) 259-7691

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Tribune: Empty Bowls fundraiser supports ECHO

Tribune: Empty Bowls fundraiser supports ECHO

The Brandon News 
Published: February 25, 2014


For a donation of $15, people who attended the Empty Bowls charity event at the Boys & Girls Club of Brandon could sample everything from sausage potato and kale soup to strawberry daiquiri bisque.

Stacey Efaw of Brandon, executive director of Emergency Care Help Organization, said more than 30 volunteers came out Feb. 15 and served up the soups for the event, which raised funds for the Brandon food pantry.

She said each participant could take home one of the 200 clay bowls made by children from elementary schools. (more…)

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Osprey Observer: Help Fill Local Food Pantries By Participating In The Annual Scouting For Food Drive

Osprey Observer: Help Fill Local Food Pantries By Participating In The Annual Scouting For Food Drive

Boy Scouts Food Drive for ECHO of Brandon 

On Saturday, February 22, the Boy Scouts of Gulf Ridge Council will participate in a nationwide food drive called “Scouting For Food.” Scouts will deliver bags provided by Publix to thousands of homes throughout the greater Brandon area on or about Saturday, February 15.

Residents are asked to fill the bags with non-expired, non-perishable food items such as canned soup, canned meats, pasta, canned vegetables and dried milk. Place the filled bag by your front door on Saturday, February 22, and scouts will come and pick up the bags between 9 a.m. and Noon.

Walter McKnight is the Gulf Ridge Council Scouting For Food Chairman. He has been involved with Scouting for over 32 years and has been conducting the food drive for the last 17 years. McKnight said, “As part of our duty to our country and to help others at all times, we (Scouts) conduct the annual food drive to refill the pantries that feed the hungry. We do it in February because that is when the pantries are empty after taking care of the needy during the holidays.” McKnight added, “Whether you like the Scouts or not, the cause of feeding the hungry needs to be taken care of by those who can. We have been doing this for over 50 years and will continue to do it in the future.” (more…)

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Osprey Observer: ECHO Raises Hunger Awareness with 2nd Annual Empty Bowls

ooFor one in four area residents, hunger and not having enough to eat are every day problems. To help raise aware-ness of this pervasive issue and to raise funds to combat hunger, the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) of Brandon is holding its 2nd Annual Empty Bowls event. The event will be held on Saturday, February 15 from Noon- 2 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club located at 213 Knights Ave. in Brandon.


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TBO: Winthrop Community Garden supplies ECHO food pantry

community gardenRIVERVIEW — On a recent sweltering Saturday, Katrina Hockman hand-watered fledgling plots of vegetables with a hose hooked to an old well; about the only manmade structure left on this slice of a former dairy farm.

Thigh-high grass engulfs most of the three-acre tract, but Hockman is determined to carve out a community garden here. She envisions a space filled with vegetables and fruit to feed the needy, a place where people can meditate or get their hands dirty.

“I know how I want this to look. Right now it’s just in my head. I want to be able to incorporate the Winthrop vision of community and art.”

The patch of land Hockman is tending is part of Winthrop, a neotraditional development founded by John and Kay Sullivan that includes Winthrop Town Center, Winthrop Village and Winthrop Events Centre.


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ECHO thanks local banks, partners for assistance with Back to School Event

ECHO Back to School EventBack to School Event 2013

ECHO staffer, Kathy Collins, joins representatives of HSBC, Bank of America, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union Foundation and Citi.  ECHO extends many thanks to the four banks for supporting our efforts to provide area children with backpacks and age appropriate school supplies.  Each not only gave monetary donations and or supplies, but they also provided much needed volunteer support at the Backpack Outreach Event held on Saturday, August 10 at Camp Cristina in Riverview.  The event, in coordination with the YMCA,  furnished over 1600 children with the materials needed to succeed in school!

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