PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A nonprofit in the Westgate community of Palm Beach County offered a helping hand to those in need on Tuesday.
Opportunity Early Childhood Education & Family Center distributed fresh produce, diapers and food to families.
Organizers said they handed out care packages to more than 80 families experiencing financial strain due to the COVID-19 crisis.
As the cars pulled up to their Westgate campus, staff also handed out stuffed animals, books, and crayons to the students to help keep them busy during quarantine.
Katie Sierra, whose children normally go to preschool at the center, is one of the people receiving a care package. She said she feels as if she just went to the grocery store.
Since the coronavirus shutdown, the center is focused on feeding hungry families in addition to online teaching.
"It's definitely been tough. I have two toddlers and not being able to work anymore is challenging, but I have to be home with them," said Sierra.
"We primarily serve working, low-income families, and we provide a lot of extra support that low-income families face with food insecurities," said Ali Eger, the executive director at Opportunity Early Childhood Education.
The center handed out food from their emergency food pantry in March, and it ran dry.
"This is definitely a high need, underserved neighborhood. The average household income here is about $22,000 a year for a family of four," said Eger. "As we reach out to our families every week and ask what their needs are, it became very clear there was an overwhelming need for food and diapers."
The nonprofit reached out to supporters and it worked. It took five staff members almost four hours to put together all of the food and fill 1,000 bags for 80 families.
Along with educational and developmental programs, the charity provides daily meals to more than 100 children it serves.
Opportunity, which was founded in 1939, closed its campus on March 18 due to the coronavirus, and the nonprofit said it is uncertain when they will reopen.
Visit Opportunity’s website if you would like to donate to their emergency food pantry.