Central Fla. nonprofit inundated with supplies, lacking in volunteers



SANFORD, Fla. - A central Florida nonprofit agency that helped thousands of local families during the recession is in need of help.

Officials with Sanford-based Harvest Time International said the organization has been inundated with donations.

Hundreds of boxes of items like blankets, pillows and clothes are filling the shelves and aisles in the organization's warehouse.

Officials said those items should be in containers being shipped off to aid those in need, but there aren't enough volunteers to sort through it all and get it.

Christopher Johnston remembers coming to Harvest Time International as a child. Twenty years later he is back as a volunteer.

"I never really volunteer anywhere except for here, and I don't mind doing stuff," Johnston said. "I just enjoyed it."

Harvest Time International recently received thousands of items from area resorts undergoing renovations.

Officials said they normally ship 400 boxes of supplies overseas each week, but lately they've been lucky to push out a fourth of that.

"It is critical to these countries. I mean we are talking about bedding pillows, we are talking about medical supplies, dental supplies and food," said Andre Smolinsky of Harvest Time International.

The organization is also dealing with a massive expansion which includes free medical and dental services, transitional housing for homeless families and new food pantries in other counties. They said their volunteer base is spread thin.

"We did a step of faith. We are adding more programs, like the medical and dental, but we need the community to help us to run these programs," said Smolinsky.

Harvest Time International does have some paid staff, but officials said they don't have the money to pay more staff to get this work done any faster, which is why they need more volunteers.

Employees of the organization said if anyone has the time to volunteer, they have a spot for them. They have positions that range from sorting donations to computer data entry.