Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feeding the Hungry on Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a lovely place to visit or live, and the chances are pretty good that the only empty mouths to feed are these darling Anhinga chicks photographed by Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez.

But the economic comfort of the Island does not preclude its involvement in helping those who certainly need a meal of more substantial dimensions than what the mommy Anhinga is feeding her beautiful babies.

Which brings us to the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

When the food bank made a run last winter to Sanibel it wasn't to gather seashells.

Instead, it picked up 324 more pounds of food for the Food Bank, thanks to the Sanibel-Captiva Vacation Rental Managers Association. That makes nearly 6,700 pounds of food donated since the program’s inception two years ago.

That’s when VIP Vacation Rentals began collecting non-perishable food left by guests. When Keith McMenamy of VIP and Randy Bacik, President of Royal Shell Vacations, formed the association, now with nine rental companies as members, they knew they could really expand food donations.

Guests’ check-in packet describes the program and how to drop off non-perishable goods at the end of their stay. Bailey’s General Store provides reinforced paper bags with handles at no cost.

Each vacation rental manager brings the donated food to a central location, and from there it’s off to the Food Bank warehouse for sorting and distribution.

The guests can feel a sense of contribution in giving excess food purchased during their stay to those who need it most.

But the giving does not end there on Sanibel, where volunteers who live on and off the island give substantially to various organizations.

For example, in addition to supporting C.R.O.W. (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel) with donations of their photography over the last several years, Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez have lent a hand in other ways. Fortune's flooring company graciously provided and supervised the flooring materials and installation for the construction of C.R.O.W.’s new Wildlife Education Center and Hospital in Sanibel.

C.R.O.W.’s on-going dedication and efforts to rehabilitate injured, orphaned or displaced animals go hand in hand with Sanibel’s high level of environmental awareness and community pride.

There will be future blog posts on volunteers and volunteerism on Sanibel Island and how vacationers--- as well as residents--- can support the good work of Sanibel non profit organizations.

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