As a new school year begins the needs of children are at the forefront of our minds and hearts.
At Catholic Charities of Central Florida, we believe in the importance of education to help children break the cycle of poverty, but for many children who are facing economic hardships, such as hunger and homelessness, learning is a challenge.
We are committed to providing children with the necessities that will improve their lives and help them to succeed. Our programs and services touch the lives of over 86,000 people, including more than 3,500 children. Programs such as the Family Stability Initiative and ThinkSmart that help children to have a brighter future.In Polk County, SmilePak provides meals to 1,000 hungry children each weekend during the school year.
This month, we have been collecting school supplies for the children we serve and we thank everyone who contributed to this worthwhile effort.
We invite you to join us in caring for children so that their tomorrow will be brighter than today.
Last year the SmilePak program provided over 1,200 students at 19 Polk and Highland county schools with healthy, easy to prepare meals to bridge the weekend hunger gap when school lunches are unavailable.
Lisa Meyers, the principal of Wahneta Elementary School in Polk County, describes the positive impact SmilePak has on her students.
"I donâ€™t know if you have recently felt the pain of hunger or experienced a growling stomach, but a lot of my kids come to school before they are fed breakfast and when they leave after lunch, they donâ€™t get fed until the next morning. That is a struggle. When they leave Friday they donâ€™t get fed again until Monday morning. That means the whole weekend they have to scrounge for whatever they can get. If my children are fed and clothed then they can learn. If the children are sitting in class and their stomach is growling they definitely cannot concentrate on what is happening.
When they walk home with a SmilePak it does make them smile. It doesnâ€™t look like much but for my kids, thatâ€™s food for the weekend. This is what I see â€“ a backpack on the front and one on the back. They are so excited to have the food.
I know Wahneta is just a little school in Polk County, but we have 170 of those little schools in Polk County and over 1000 students are being fed. It is a mission and it is very important."
Learn more about SmilePak and how to get involved.
Looking for a way to serve your community? See below for a list of current volunteer opportunities: SUMTER COUNTY
Clinic Intake Workers Greet patients at our free medical clinics and assist them with the needed forms.
Volunteers needed at Lazarus Clinic in Wildwood on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Spanish is helpful but not required. ORANGE COUTNY
Semoran Food Pantry
Catholic Charities food pantry on Semoran Blvd. in Orlando is looking for volunteers to stock, sort, and bag donations Monday - Friday between the hours of 12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. ORANGE COUNTY
Shepherd's House and Family Stability Initiative programs are seeking child care volunteers to play games and supervise children while their mothers attend life skill trainings, job interviews, and counseling sessions.
In Orlando on Monday nights from 5:30 p.m. â€“ 7:00 p.m. and flexible hours during the day Monday â€“ Friday. If you are interested in these or other volunteers opportunities, contact Anita Capetillo at
407-658-1818 x 2020.
During the month on August Catholic Charities of Central Florida is collecting school supplies for children in need. We thank St. Peter Catholic Church, St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church (Winter Haven), Publix Supermarkets, and Liberty Mutual for their generous donations.
Greg Somers recently completed a year of service through Catholic Volunteers in Florida at our Melbourne office's Emergency Family Services program. We are so grateful for his dedication and compassion to our neighbors in need.
October 11 - Pathways to Care Soup Bowl Supper
Held at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in commemoration of World Homeless Day. Taste soup creations from local restaurants and celebrity chefs and participate in live and silent auctions. Featuring emcee Ellis Feaster from Z 88.3 and keynote speaker Scott Maxwell. More details to come.
October 26 - Masquerade Ballat Lake Receptions in Mount Dora The Phantom of
the Opera themed ball will benefit St. Luke Medical and Dental Clinic. Click here for event information.