The Emergency Care Help Organization in Brandon has gone mobile.
ECHO, a nonprofit that provides food and clothing to needy residents, received a $40,000 grant from Wal-Mart.
Sean Riley, the manager of Brandon Wal-Mart on Causeway Boulevard, was on hand for the presentation.
The grant money was used to purchase a truck to allow ECHO to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis for its clients.
“We want to make sure that people can eat healthy despite their financial circumstances,” said Executive Director Stacey Efaw. “This grant allowed us to purchase a truck from Roger Rivard Chevrolet, which will in turn allow us to pick up fresh produce from Feeding America and other establishments. We could not do what we do without the support of corporations such as Wal-Mart and Roger Rivard Chevrolet. We are extremely grateful for their support."
Honorary Mayor's Race Donation
ECHO's board of directors also extended thanks to B. Lee Elam for selecting ECHO as one of his local charities for the 2012 Brandon honorary mayor's race.
Board member, Laura Simon, accepted the $5,065.26 check at the Community Roundtable meeting July 11 at Center Place in Brandon.
The money raised was made possible due to the hard work of ECHO supporters including Ray and Ryan Chadderton who organized ECHO's putt-putt tournament on June 23.
Urgent Needs at ECHO
ECHO currently is in desperate need of several items that are vitally important to the clients it serves.
It is seeking boys’ and girls’ socks size 6-9½, boys’ underwear in sizes 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10, diapers in sizes 4 and 5 and basic hygiene necessities including toothpaste, bar soap, deodorant, shampoo and feminine products.
"If you are out shopping, please consider picking up some of these essential items," said ECHO Executive Director Stacey Efaw. "You never know who you will be helping."
ECHO assists more than 700 Brandon area residents each month.
Donations may be dropped off at ECHO, 507 N. Parsons Ave., Brandon between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information, call 813-685-0935.
A Success Story
Every day, people come to ECHO for help. All of their stories are different, but what they have in common is a need for assistance and a little compassion.
Center director, Joni Damico, recentl yassisted a homeless man who was new to the area and had no car, no job and no place to live.
Damico took a few minutes to listen to the man's story and then provided him with essentials including a sleeping bag, a few outfits and food.
“As we talked, I found out that he was a certified air-condition technician. I went on the Internet and found some local companies and gave him the names and phone numbers,” said Damico.
Much to her surprise, he returned to ECHO with good news. He had found a job. After his first week at work, his employer gave him an advance and he was able to get a small efficiency apartment.
“He was smiling from ear to ear. He was so different from the man I saw two weeks earlier,” said Damico.
In addition to sharing his good news, the man brought in donations of items he had received.
“He wanted to help others. He also said that he will never forget what ECHO did for him,” said Damico.
Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show
ECHO is currently seeking models and sponsors for its 10th annual Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show set for Saturday, Oct. 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hillsborough Community College's auditorum, 10414 E. Columbus Dr., Tampa. This is an opportunity for students ages 5 to 18 to learn about supporting local nonprofits and earn some community service hours.
Fashions will be provided by Kohl’s. Children ages 10 and up will model two outfits.
Models expected to raise $100 to participate, including a $25 registration fee.
The ECHO model who raises the most money for the ECHO children’s fashion show will be recognized and crowned “Mr./Miss ECHO” and will reign until the next year’s show. He or she will receive a sash and will ride on the ECHO float in Brandon's annual Fourth of July parade.
Every year ECHO provides food, clothing, socks and underwear to more than 5,000 children. This fashion show provides the majority of the financial resources to assist these children.
Visit the ECHO website and click on the events tab to register to be a model.
ECHO is also seeking sponsorships from individuals and local businesses. The Kids Helping Kids Fashion Show is ECHO's largest fundraiser. For more information, contact Kathy Collins at 813-685-0935.
ECHO's mission is to provide immediate relief in the forms of food, clothing and household items to those residents ECHO services residents of Brandon, Lithia, Dover, Gibsonton, Seffner, Valrico and Riverview who have experienced a recent emergency.
Since its inception in 1987, ECHO has assisted more than 109,000 individuals, over half of whom were children, with basic life necessities.
ECHO’s clients receive all items free of charge and provides seven days worth of food per visit. In addition to a large assortment of nonperishable items, clients receive meat, cheese, eggs, butter, flour and sugar.
ECHO also provides each client with 12 outfits and three pairs of shoes. Children receive two new pairs of socks and underwear or diapers.
Depending on the nature of the emergency, ECHO’s clients also can receive household items such as linens, blankets, towels, small appliances, pots and pans, utensils and decorative items.
Clients may visit ECHO four times and visits must be a least six months apart.
Clients are served each weekday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.