By PAUL CATALA | Tribune correspondent
Published: March 12, 2013
View original story here
RIVERVIEW –The conditions weren’t as dire as those found during the Great Depression, but guests in a soup line still got a taste of the bare sustenance lifestyles some in eastern Hillsborough County go through each day.Standing underneath an outdoor pavilion, representatives from local restaurants and charitable organizations spooned out bowlfuls of various soups to guests who took part in Emergency Care Help Organization Brandon’s (ECHO) first “Empty Bowls” event.It was one of dozens of Empty Bowls events held annually around the world by artists and art groups to fight hunger.Artists create and donate bowls, then serve a simple meal. This year, five area elementary schools – Alafia, Cimino, Lithia Springs, Winthrop Charter, Frost and classes from Metropolitan Ministries — donated decorative clay pottery bowls handmade by students.
With their $15 donation, guests got to pick out a bowl to take home and were served a meal of soup, bread and water at the Winthrop Pole Barn.
Stacey Efaw, ECHO executive director, said about 20 ECHO volunteers came out to work the event. Ten area restaurants and civic groups served their favorite soups ranging from chicken noodle and cream of broccoli, to black bean and clam and corn chowder.
The event raised $7,000, adding to the $5,500 in sponsorships raised in advance.
Most of the students in art teacher Shelly Valdez’s classes likely have not experienced real hunger in their young lives.
As they prepared to make clay pinch bowls that will be used during an anti-hunger fundraiser, they learned that some 400,000 people just in the greater Hillsborough County region face food shortages regularly. Hunger is a reality for one in six children in this community.
The Lithia Springs Elementary School students made dozens of small clay bowls that will be used for Empty Bowls 2013, a fundraiser hosted by the Emergency Care Help Organization, or ECHO, to feed the needy. ECHO, located in Brandon, steps in for families in catastrophic situations when they need immediate assistance. (more…)
VALRICO, Fla. -
I remember art — one of those “fun” classes that came around once a week in school that they used to call “specials.” Who knew that all the while we were coloring and stuff… We were actually learning.
“They get a little bit of math, they get a little bit of science,” said
Shelly Valdez, an art instructor at Lithia Springs Elementary School in Valrico. “We do writing, we incorporate words sometimes, so I kind of feel like we encompass all of the different subjects in art.”
So sneaky those art instructors… especially the ones who’ve been at it awhile — like Ms. Valdez — who’s now into here 11th year of teaching. These days, she’s taking those lessons a little further.
“We’re also going to be teaching them that they can use their art to make a difference in other people’s lives,” she said.
“And,” she added, “we’re going to be using it as a way to raise money for people that are less fortunate.”
Julian Craft has been characterized in many ways- A knight in shining armor, one of the nicest men you will ever meet and an unbelievably generous and civic minded resident. Throughout his life, Craft has received several awards for his community service in the greater Brandon area.
On Friday, December 7, at the 39th Annual Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council’s Human Rights Awards Celebration in Tampa, Craft was awarded the 2012 Human Rights Award. He received this distinction because he was instrumental in saving a local food and clothing pantry now known as ECHO. Craft was unable to attend the ceremony, and his son, Mark Craft, M.D. received the award for his father. (more…)
‘Tis the season to be both jolly and generous as we enter the holiday season. Before making up your gift lists this year and running off to the stores, keep in mind that the Brandon and Tampa areas offer several ways to give back to the community as well.
Honor Flight of West Central Florida
(HFWCF) was established in 2010 as an official Regional Hub of the National Honor Flight Network. This network allows HFWCF to provide all expense-paid flights for World War II Veterans in the Tampa area to visit the memorials in Washington D.C. Honor Flight goes on these missions several times throughout the year with the help of corporate sponsors, individual donors and guardians, who fly to Washington D.C. with the Veterans. Those interested in getting involved with Honor Flight this holiday season can do so either by donations or becoming a guardian. For more information on Honor Flight of West Central Florida, visit www.honorflightwcf.com or call (727) 498-6079.
Across the country, members of Ameriprise Financial participated in the 3rd Annual Ameriprise Financial National Day of Service on Friday, November 16. Locally, Edwin G. Treimanis, a Certified Financial Planner with Ameriprise Financial, organized a group of volunteers to celebrate this National Day of Service.
Employees, clients and others participated, along with Treimanis, and volunteered at ECHO of Brandon. This is the second year that Treimanis has organized a group to work at ECHO. “I want to keep this tradition going every year. ECHO is a great organization which helps residents in the greater Brandon area,” said Treimanis. (more…)
Interview by: Amanda Furmage-Deck | Photos by: Anthony Sassano
Whether the loss of a job or the loss of a home, unexpected life events occur to individuals from all walks of life. In order to ease the burden associated with these unfortunate circumstances, the Emergency Care Help Organization of the greater Brandon area was founded in 1987 to provide immediate relief in the forms of food, clothing, and household items to residents in need, free of charge. Since its inception, ECHO has aided over 109,000 individuals with the supplies necessary for daily life. FOCUS Magazine interviewed ECHO Executive Director Stacey Efaw to learn more about her giving volunteer organization. (more…)
Currently one in eight families in Hillsborough County are food insecure, meaning that they have no access to nutritious food. Survival for them is a daily challenge. It has been reported that 58 percent of clients served by local food pantries report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities. Thirty-seven percent had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coming up, many of the families may have to do without. (more…)