‘We want to help as much as we can’: volunteers come together for ‘Share the Love’ food distribution

LONGWOOD, Fla. — Thousands of families will have a warm meal thanks to the work of about 100 volunteers who came together at the “Share the Love” food distribution in Seminole County Saturday Morning.


One by one, box after box, the group, organized by the Heart of Florida United Way, is making sure neighbors in need won’t go hungry.

“There are nearly 50% of our Central Florida neighbors who live paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet,” said Ashley Blasewitz, with the Heart of Florida United Way. “Every little bit helps when it comes to those basic essentials like food.”

The volunteers battled the rain Saturday morning and showed up at the U-S Hunger facility in Longwood.

Read: Miss America 2024 visits middle school students in Daytona Beach

Some of them brought the whole family. “I brought my sons. My nephew, my father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, my wife, my sister-in-law Cat,” said Chris Atwood, who volunteered for the first time. “We want to help as much as we can.”

The meals will be distributed across Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, in partnership with other organizations like Meals on Wheels and Coalition for the homeless.

“I like being able to help people in need, who need food, but just don’t have the money for it,” said 9-year-old Gabriel, who spent the morning at the event. “It makes me feel more important than I already am to my community.”

Read: Florida high school requires permission slips for students to see Disney’s ‘Tangled’

Organizers and volunteers put together thousands of pre-portioned red lentil jambalaya, with non-perishable ingredients that will help with the distribution.

“We start with our bags and our lentils, and our rice. That’s going into the funnel into the bag, we include all the seasoning as well,” said Lynnea Crawford – Vice President volunteer experience, Heart of Florida United Way. “It continues on to make sure it’s the appropriate weight to ensure there are six servings in every package.”

More than 50 of them will be going out to families who need.

Read: Orange County man claims a $1 million prize after playing a scratch-off game

This is just one of the many events powered by the united way to fight food insecurity across central Florida.

“We do this off and on throughout the year. We also have our thanksgiving project when we give out 4-thousand meals, we have a community baby shower event,” said Jeff Hayward, CEO Heart of Florida United Way. “This is a special one because of the time of the year, but it’s all year round.”

Click here for more volunteer opportunities.

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.