Orlando-area nonprofit brightens holiday season through gifts, hot meals

Feed and Fortify collects toys, food, blankets, slow cookers for families

ORLANDO, Fla. – A local nonprofit is making this holiday season a little merrier for children and families that may not be able to afford Christmas gifts or a hot meal.

The organization Feed and Fortify has been making a difference in the community for several years now by collecting toys, food, blankets and slow cookers.

"They're going to be surprises because they're coming to the North Pole," founder Gloria Puerto said. 

In just a few days, the Taft Community Center will look like Mr. and Mrs. Claus' home.

"We try to do with the little we have, the biggest we can to make them happy and excited so they're coming to visit Santa Claus' house," Puerto said.

Puerto, an occupational therapist, works alongside community members to spread the joy through the nonprofit foundation.

[RELATED: Orlando nonprofit throws 'family reunion' for those living on streetsMy Beloved Widows: Themed luncheons offer 'safe haven' for widows]


"Gifts for each one of the kids, no matter the age. They're gonna have Crock-Pots -- brand-new Crock-Pots because if they don't have (anywhere) to cook, they just need to connect it. They don't need a kitchen," Puerto said.


She said they're expecting forty families, which will be selected by social workers and family liaisons in the elementary school around the center.

Those selected get a golden ticket to attend and can bring up to five family members.

Puerto said the struggling families will get to enjoy the true meaning of the holidays for a couple of hours.

"That is what we need. We need to give some love ... relieve a little bit of the stress. Maybe they don't have any money to get any toys, or they don't have enough money for food. We're gonna have dinner, we're gonna have entertainers, we're gonna have face painting for the kids and at the end, Santa is going to have a great surprise," Puerto said.

In 2011, Puerto started to assist the homeless community and families in need of a helping hand while they're trying to get through some hard times.

"I was looking for a purpose ... I think that you come to this life to leave a legacy," she said.

Since then, Feed and Fortify has served thousands of people with clothing, food and guidance to other resources that can help them progress.

The organization holds several other events, including ones to help children in the back-to-school season, Thanksgiving and their Three Kings event in January.

For more information on how you can lend a helping hand, visit www.ffcoinc.org or its Facebook page at Facebook.com/feedandfortify.

About the Author: