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Warm Hearts Prevail Over Chill for Hero Central Toy, Food Drive

12:03 PM, Dec 7, 2009   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Toys and food for the needy started to take up space in a number of big trucks as the generosity of the First Coast came through Friday morning for the start of the Hero Central Toy and Food Drive.

"I had been collecting things all year," said one woman as she drove up with a box full of food. "I've been looking for a place to leave them and I saw you on the news this morning."

David Allen, who also saw the drive on the news Friday morning and is known to many in the Good Morning Jacksonville online chat room as "Harleyguy," rode his Harley to both the Orange Park Mall and St. Johns Town Center with toys.

"I went without a lot," Allen said.  "It's time for me to give back.  It's very addicting to help people."

The donations will benefit the families and children served by the agencies that Second Harvest Food Bank of North Florida and America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia work with.

"It warms my heart and reminds me that the human spirit is still alive," said Denise Arnold, who works for Watson Realty, another drop-off site during the drive.

The cold and steady rain did not slow the army of volunteers. One little girl with blonde hair peaking out the back of a Santa hat, had the team jumping through an exercise routine at one point.

Much of the cheer has come from Lynda Lewis.  She works with the United Way, and took over as cheerleader for the Hero Central volunteers working the drop-off zone. 

"I just like to help people, I am a giver," said Lewis. "I like to have fun and give back to people."

Dwight Brisbane, the advisory board chairman for 1 Church 1 Child foster care agency, rearranged his schedule to help out this afternoon.

"I had a couple of appointments to help get donations to help with the Christmas party we have for the foster children. But, I postponed those to come out this morning to volunteer and give back."

When he is not working with 1 Church 1 Child, Brisbane looks for other ways to volunteer. "I personally feel we can't all give money, but something we can all give is time that may benefit someone in need this time of year."

Robin Klob feels the same way. She doesn't have a job but still found the urge to help out.

"Because it feels so good to give," said Klob. "I am unemployed but I feel I still have more than others."

The drive for toys and non-perishable food items was all day Friday and Saturday at the St. Johns Town Center and Orange Park Mall, and at various Watson Realty locations, including those in St. Augustine and St. Marys, Ga.

"This is for the people who have a little less than me," said a woman who shuttled through before the lunch hour to drop off left soup, pasta, and canned tuna.

Suddath is providing the trucks. Lutheran Social Services, the Salvation Army are also taking part. Renna's Pizza showed its giving side and donated a stack of pizza's as lunch for the cold, shivering, but energized volunteers who are working tirelessly to help bring Christmas to needy families.

Suddath is providing the trucks. Lutheran Social Services, the Salvation Army are also taking part. Renna's Pizza showed its giving side and donated a stack of pizza's as lunch for the cold, shivering, but energized volunteers who are working tirelessly to help bring Christmas to needy families.

First Coast News

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