7News teams up with Feeding South Florida to gather supplies for Michael victims

PEMBROKE PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - WSVN 7 has joined Feeding South Florida to create a relief fund for those affected by Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle. The Ansin Foundation, led by WSVN owner Ed Ansin, has donated $25,000 to the 7 NEWS/Feeding South Florida relief fund for the distribution of essential supplies to the hardest-hit areas.

Individuals and companies that want to donate to the 7 NEWS/Feeding South Florida Michael Relief Fund can do so by visiting WSVN.com.  A hundred percent of the funds will go to Hurricane Michael relief efforts.

“We are pleased to partner once again with Feeding South Florida for hurricane relief,” said Ed Ansin, WSVN Owner & President. “The Ansin Foundation and WSVN are committed to helping the communities most in need.”

Friday morning, a truck with about 20,000 pounds of supplies drove away from Feeding South Florida’s main facility in Pembroke Park to help the hardest-hit areas in the Panhandle with food, water and other necessities.

“Donations are starting to come in fully,” said Sari Vatske, Executive-Vice President of Feeding South Florida. “We think the public needs some time to collect their items.”

Vatske expressed her gratitude for WSVN’s contribution.

“They’ve been a consistent leader of disaster relief efforts, and this critical contribution enables us to get trucks, staff and supplies to families in the Panhandle,” she said.

Feeding South Florida is the sole Feeding America food bank serving Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.  It is the largest and most efficient food bank in each of the counties they serve.

“We have 17 vehicles in our fleet, and we’re doing about 500 pick ups per week,” said Vatske.

Volunteers spent their weekend packing up thousands of boxes of food, water and other lifesaving necessities.

“In each box is about 15 meals, and those 15 meals in 2,000 boxes, that’s about 35,000 meals,” said Vatske.

However, additional donations are still needed.

“It’s so important for us to come together as a state association, as a network and to help each other,” said Vatske. “People have lost everything, their homes have been taken off its foundation, so we’re doing whatever we can to get food up to them immediately.”

The public is encouraged to donate whatever they can to Feeding South Florida’s main warehouse in Pembroke Park, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Sundays).

The address is:

2501 SW 32 Terrace
Pembroke Park, FL 33023

Among the items needed include:

  • Pop top can meals and soup (pop top cans are items that do not need a can opener)
  • Peanut butter
  • Instant soup mix
  • Water
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Diapers
  • Batteries

“We have peanut butter, we have granola bars, we have pop top cans, we have soup meals, we have dry cereal, so things that everyone would be able to use at a shelter,” said Vatske.

Together with Feeding South Florida, the goal is to send one truck every day or every other day next week for however long is needed. However, the hope is to fill the trucks as soon as possible.

“Receiving items that people need can really be transformative,” said Vatske. “When you don’t have anything and receive something, and it’s the most basic needs — when you’re receiving food, you’re receiving water — there’s definitely a sense of relief that comes over people.”

It’s just not charitable organizations and big businesses lending a helping hand. In Davie, the owners of a Dairy Queen filled their RV and a trailer filled with donations to hand-deliver them upstate.

“What we’re doing is, we’re taking all the donations that are being dropped off here at Dairy Queen in Davie, where we’re loading them up to our 25-foot trailer,” said business owner Albert Molina. “My son and I are going to be going to the hardest hit areas in Panama [City] up north Florida. We’re gonna be going to the shelters, and we’re going to be doing this ourselves.”

Molina and his family made the same trip last year for Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston. Friday afternoon, he showed a 7News crew the items he will be taking to the Panhandle.

“We’ve got some chain saws, somebody dropped off some fuel, Fix-a-Flat. We’ve got a couple of generators,” he said.

Molina knows first-hand how every little bit helps those in need.

“Things that we didn’t even think about last year, when we were asking for stuff but simple things like a toothbrush, toothpaste,” he said. “These people lost everything, and they don’t have it.”

It’s not just the days after a storm’s path of destruction that are critical. Families may need things that maybe were taken for granted under clear skies over the next few weeks and maybe even months.

“It’s critical for families to receive food but also non-food items, and so it sounds clichéd, but it’s really life-sustaining and life-saving,” said Vatske. “Folks that have evacuated, that have lost their homes, have lost everything, so not only are we sending supplies to help support the shelters but also those that are evacuated, that are going to need our assistance for a long time.”

For those bank at the food bank, they said they’ll continue packing and shipping supplies as long as donations keep coming in, and while the need is still there.

“We want to ensure that they’re well-fed, that they have water, that going through one of the toughest times of their lives they understand that help is out there, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure they’re fed,” said Vatske.

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