Feeding the Space Coast
Organizations step up meal donations during holidays
For many, the holiday season is a time to celebrate abundance — but for some, particularly during a year of a pandemic, it can be a time that accentuates great need. Local organizations are helping out these families, starting with basic necessities such as food. Here are just a few of the organizations dedicated to feeding Brevard County families this holiday season.
We’ve included contact information for those interested in helping.
Aging Matters in Brevard
Donate or Volunteer: AgingMattersBrevard.org
Aging Matters in Brevard operates a five-day-per-week Meals on Wheels program that feeds local seniors, year round. During the holiday season, the program adds shelf-stable food packets that are delivered to 850 people the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve intended to last for four days. Some of the items in the packs include canned chicken, soup, fruit juice and whole grain crackers.
“Our total cost to feed our clients for Thanksgiving and Christmas is around $23,800,” said Marty Mercado, director of development at Aging Matters in Brevard. In addition to monetary donations, the organization needs volunteers to work in the community kitchen or help deliver meals.
“Currently we are following all CDC guidelines for delivery and kitchen work. Masks and gloves must be worn and social distancing of 6 feet is enforced for the safety of our clientele,” Mercado said.
Space Coast Basket Brigade
Donate or Volunteer: SpaceCoastBasketBrigade.com
Hosted on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Space Coast Basket Brigade has been delivering all of the items needed for a holiday meal to Brevard residents for more than a decade. This year’s event will take place on Nov. 22.
“What started as delivering four holiday meals to unsuspecting families has turned into one of the largest contribution events on the Space Coast, with more than 2,000 volunteers delivering 5,000 meals to families in need,” said co-founder Jackie Giurleo.
With new regulations surrounding COVID-19, the event needs donations most. Donors can visit SpaceCoastBasketBrigade.com and choose items to donate, with costs listed alongside their choices. For example, donors can give a pumpkin pie to a family for $5, donate a turkey for $25 or feed a family an entire Thanksgiving meal for $45. Those who volunteer to deliver the meal kits throughout the county will pick up their baskets in a drive-thru fashion at Satellite High School and be given the addresses that coincide with each basket.
“Sponsor a family or pledge to sponsor five and have your family and friends join in in reaching that goal,” Guirleo said. “This holiday season, more than ever, we need to help as many families as possible experience a bit of kindness and magic.”
The Children’s Hunger Project
Donate or volunteer: TheChildrensHungerProject.org
On Dec. 10, The Children’s Hunger Project will celebrate its 10th anniversary — though in a much different fashion than originally envisioned one year ago. A small in-person gathering, accompanied by a virtual party, for supporters of the organization that feeds Brevard children through a backpack program is planned.
“We are so blessed to have loyal supporters from year to year. This will be a way to thank them, and remind others who are able to recommit to the cause,” said Sherry Burklew, media coordinator for The Children's Hunger Project.
The pandemic has hit the organization especially hard, particularly since the number of children in need of its meal services has risen. During the summer months, for example, the organization went from feeding 2,300 children each week to 6,000. Volunteers, as always, helped pack the food items and Brevard Public Schools helped organize distribution spots while schools were closed.
“The amount of support we’ve received from the community, even during this time of difficulty for so many, has been inspiring,” Burklew said. “In 10 years, we have not missed a single week of getting backpack meals to kids who need them. Not during hurricanes, pandemics or anything else.”
This holiday season, the organization is asking that families, churches and businesses consider pledging $150 to feed one child for an entire school year. There are options to donate in honor of or in memory of others, too — a perfect gift option.
To stay up to date on needed items and volunteer opportunities, follow at Facebook.com/thechildrenshungerproject.
Organization: Alpizar Law
Donate or volunteer: 321-676-2511, email@example.com
For the past seven years, Alpizar Law in Melbourne has set aside the Saturday before Thanksgiving as a day to give turkeys to local families in need. In 2019, 700 turkeys were given away.
“Each year, we invite the community to our office to celebrate with music, food and entertainment — finishing the morning with our turkey giveaway,” said David Alpizar, firm partner. “With COVID-19 concerns and our effort to practice safety, we had to modify our Thanksgiving event.”
Instead of actual turkeys, the firm will mail out 500 turkey-specific gift cards. All slots were taken within the first day that registration opened on Oct. 26. But anyone still needing aid can register at AlpizarLaw.com by Nov. 6 and be entered to win a $500 holiday shopping gift card. Also look on the website for the chance to enter to win a flatscreen TV.
“This year, more than ever, we knew we had to continue. We’re looking forward to serving our community and helping everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families,” Alpizar said.
Donate or volunteer: BrilliantSmilesOrthodontics.com, 321-779-0000
Since establishing the Holiday Meals program in 2018, the team at Brilliant Smiles Orthodontics has assembled and donated over 1,100 meals to disadvantaged families in Brevard during the holiday season.
The program has received tremendous support from the dental community and several local businesses, and Dr. Romia Goff and Dr. Lauren Lockhart hope to enlist several more donors this year, due to the greater need for meals by those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more articles in our digital magazine.