Sunday, January 16, 2022

Meals of Hope Event Unites Community

The Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) gymnasium and lobby were transformed into a meal packaging and distribution center last Saturday for the 2018 Meals of Hope Packaging Event. The Marco Island community united for the unforgettable two-hour experience to help feed the local hungry.

“We are thrilled to be here. It was a year-long effort by the Rotary clubs and Kiwanis of Marco Island, who organized lots of events to pay for the meals we are packing today. The reality is, there are a lot of hungry people in our community. People don’t realize that there is an enormous need in Collier County, where 70.3% of all students participate in the free or reduced breakfast and lunch program. The need is just tremendous,” explained Stephen Popper, Meals of Hope President and CEO.

DJ Kevin Fitzgerald kept the music pumping as more than 500 volunteers, representing local groups, organizations, schools, churches, and families, eagerly worked at a frantic pace packed an astonishing 250,000 meals. The event boasted 37 packing stations, the most ever for the Marco event.

“It’s one of my favorite days of the year. Over 80 kids from MIA are helping today. It’s just so fun watching our kids helping, smiling, dancing, and cheering as they support our community’s hungry,” beamed Marco Island Academy (MIA) Principal Melissa Scott.

“It is great to see the Marco community come out to help those in need. It is heartwarming and inspiring too see volunteers of all ages and abilities helping any way they can,” expressed Dianna Dohm, Executive Director of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, as she looked around the gymnasium.

Following the packaging event, all 250,000 meals will be completely distributed to local families by the second week of December, according to Popper.

Meals of Hope is a nationwide effort to feed the hungry. On Black Friday, they are setting up 272 stations for 4,000 volunteers in Pittsburgh, in hopes of packing one million meals in two hours.

For more information about Meals of Hope, visit

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