ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — As the final countdown to Christmas begins, an organization in St. Johns County is underway to make sure hundreds of children have food to eat over the winter break.
Hugs Across the County, a nonprofit made up of volunteers, is partnering with the St. Johns community to provide more than 1,000 bags of food to students in need this month, and they could use your help.
For the sixth year in a row, the organization is making sure no students in St. Johns County are hungry over the holidays.
“This is the ten breakfasts and ten lunches they would have received if they were in school over the Christmas holidays,” Food Program Coordinator Holly Ross said. “We started out originally with about 150 bags, and we have grown to 1200 bags last year, and we served 38 out of 39 schools.”
The organization works year-round to provide for the hundreds of homeless students and those in need in the St. Johns County School District.
“The guidance counselors identify the students, so we rely on the schools to let us know how many bags that they would like to receive," Ross said. "And then we drop those bags off and they're in charge of distributing them."
Ross said she hopes more people will donate. A meal for one students for the 10 days they are out of school is $20. In addition to monetary donations, people can also donate food.
“We have very specific items that we're looking for,” Ross said. “Those are things like ravioli, full size Cheerios, saltine crackers and fruit cups.”
Ross has seen an outpouring of support over the years.
“As people hear about the program they get really excited, and they want to have food drives and packing events,” Ross explained. “So, we have a number of neighborhoods that have continued year after year to bring their neighborhoods together and help provide food.”
Once all the food is collected, high schoolers will help pack the bags.
“We will be packing December 12 at our warehouse in St. Augustine,” Ross said. “Students from Creekside High School and Ponte Vedra High School will be doing the setup, doing the packing and doing the cleanup as well. They enjoy doing it, and it's a great way to give back to the community and have people feel like they're taking part and doing something to help another child in need.”
The deadline to donate food is December 10, 2020.
Food donations can be dropped off at the Hugs warehouse Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2745 Industry Center Drive, Unit 3 in St. Augustine, or you can arrange a pickup by emailing email@example.com.
You can make monetary donations on Hugs Across the County's website.