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United Way volunteers get food moving for local pantries

United Way volunteers in Collier County are keeping busy these days.

They spent Thursday unpacking and repacking seven trucks of food boxes that came from a state agency. It’s a lot of hard work and they need all hands on deck at their warehouse.

“We’ve got a system,” said Patricia Heath, United Way volunteer and board member.

The boxes they unloaded Thursday will head to the Midwest Food Bank.

“This is just one way … that I can do personally to help the community,” said volunteer Diane Haynes.

It’s a lot of work, but volunteer Eunice Marquez said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’ve been beneficiaries of the food pantries in LaBelle as well when we’ve gone through hard times, so now that we are better off, we understand that there’s other families that are still having hard times, so we’d like to give back.”

One by one, boxes are unpacked and repacked, full of items that will end up at local food pantries.

“We’re putting all the snacks together with all the potatoes together, all the apples together, and all the rice together,” Marquez said.

Volunteer director Patrice Cunningham said the work will take a few days and they need more volunteers. “We need all hands on deck to unpack and repack.”

“The more hands the merrier,” Marquez said.

United Way will have another meal-packing event Friday in Naples at the old Office Depot building, 3420 Tamiami Trail E.

Volunteers are also needed in Fort Myers for unpacking those boxes. That site is at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd.

Volunteers at both sites must be at least 14 years old. The United Way requires volunteers wear closed-toe shoes, and in an effort to keep everyone healthy, bring a face mask and expect to social distance while volunteering. They ask you forego volunteering if, in the last 14 days, you have been around anyone who has COVID-19, have traveled to a COVID-19 hot spot, or have been to an event where more than 250 people were in attendance.

To sign up for either event, click here.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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