Since 2012, Second Harvest has offered a fun and unique way for anyone in the community to raise money to fight hunger, called a Virtual Food Drive. It has been truly heartening to see so many individuals and organizations in Central Florida rally their friends, coworkers, and family for a cause that means so much to them – ending hunger in our community, and peer-to-peer tools are a powerful way to do that.
Each year, you begin to see some of those same people come back, more seasoned and ready to go, eager to feed more kids, seniors, and families in their neighborhoods. One such inspiring person is Lauren Bautista, a senior at Bishop Moore High School who has raised over $5,300 so far this year in her virtual food drive. Lauren started volunteering at Second Harvest as a freshman, and would come into the food bank with her family to sort donations and pack meal boxes. When she learned about virtual food drives, she jumped at the chance to make a bigger impact in her community.
Now in her second year of doing a virtual food drive, Lauren has learned a couple things along the way. “I learned the importance of starting the food drive early. While the holiday season may seem like a long time, last year I underestimated how busy people can get during this time of year.” Lauren also learned that by sending out emails to her donors early, she gave them ample time to donate and ask any questions or concerns they might have.
She goes on to say that it is important to share the difference someone is making when they donate. “This year, I stressed the fact that each dollar donated can provide four meals, and that the donations are tax deductible.” Lauren even took her fundraising offline by setting up a table outside of her church, and sharing with parishioners about her project. She took it a step further this year by handing out Second Harvest fliers so they could learn about who they are donating to and volunteer opportunities at the food bank.
Lauren proves that whether you are young or old, or any age in between, it is as easy as a couple clicks to set up your own virtual food drive and start raising money to fight hunger. “If you don’t have time to set up a table and physically ask for donations, the email tool is a great way to get the word out.” Using the email tool in her virtual food drive, she was able to personalize her messages and send direct links to her donors, and when she received a donation, she could send a thank you email. “It is critical to send a thank you to your virtual donors! I made sure to thank everyone who donated to my drive last year, and this year when I sent them the email about it, many of my donors were quick to donate again.”
Children should not have to go to school hungry on Monday because there was not enough to eat over the weekend, seniors should not have to choose between lifesaving medicine and a warm meal, and hardworking adults should not have to choose between affording rent and utilities, and feeding themselves. Yet, these things happen, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of people in the Central Florida community, like Lauren, it is happening less. Lauren chooses to run a virtual food drive because she hopes to feed the hungry in Central Florida and bring awareness to the mission of Second Harvest, and we find that truly inspirational. So far this year, just Lauren’s drive has raised enough money to put 21,200 more meals for our community. Imagine what you could do.
Thank you Lauren for being a strong Hunger Hero for our community, and to everybody who ran a Hope for the Holiday Virtual Food Drive this year. Together you have raised over $32,600 so far, and are making a difference for kids, families, and seniors all across Central Florida.
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