It was quite a night for the Feed the Cape food drive as it opened its summer fundraiser Wednesday night with a kickoff party at Rumrunner's.
In one night, "Feed the Cape," an informal organization of people and businesses, surpassed its total for all of last year by raising more than $25,000 for the Cape Coral Caring Center, an organization devoted to helping feed those who are less fortunate put food on the table, among other things.
Several hundred pounds of food was also brought in for the fundraiser, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association, Spiro & Associates, and others.
"This is the second year we've done this and we hope it will grow every year. The more the community finds out about it, the more it will grow and grow," said Donna Germain, communications director at the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce.
Last year's fundraiser brought in around $16,000, which bought more than 10,000 pounds of food. Germain believes they can double last year's total when the drive ends on Aug. 9 when school starts.
The scheduling of this fundraiser is no coincidence, since it's summer recess for Lee County schools and many of the children in Lee County are on free or reduced lunch programs. For many, the meal they eat at school is the only one they eat all day.
"This is to help those families who are struggling so they're able to feed their families over the summer," Germain said.
Chris Spiro, of Spiro & Associates, gave some facts that were even more humbling.
"Last night, 800-plus kids slept in their car in Lee County, and there are 56,000 children on free and reduced lunches and Wednesday was the end of school," Spiro said. "We live in paradise, and no child or senior should have to go to bed hungry."
The Caring Center, founded in 1990, has offered short-term assistance to more than 70,000 Cape residents. It gets funding through churches and church groups, the city of Cape Coral (C.D.B.G funds) , civic and fraternal organizations, local businesses, private citizens and the United Way (FEMA funds).
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Feed the Cape campaign is that it is not an official, organized group. Rather, it is an affiliation of business people who want to help those less fortunate, whether through writing a check or offering free services to spread the word.
Wednesday's event was a "who's who" of the city's business community, Spiro said.
"There were no egos, but a group of community stewards who saw a need. It was amazing how these people stepped up and said 'not in my town.'"
There are currently 18 locations people can go to donate food.
To learn more, visit www.feedthecape.com.