VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The food drive for nonprofit Healthy Souls International hosted by News 6 and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office over the weekend collected more than 7,000 pounds of food that was distributed throughout Volusia County.
News 6 tagged along Thursday as volunteers with Healthy Souls International delivered meals to some of the most vulnerable residents in Volusia County and around Central Florida. Individuals and families at risk of contracting the coronavirus or those who already tested positive for COVID-19 received groceries, personal hygiene products and toilet paper.
“It’s been very busy,” founder Maria Davila said. “For each individual, they get seven [days’ worth of] meals: seven dinners, seven lunches, seven breakfasts.”
The nonprofit delivers goods to people who are restricted to leave their homes, including those over age 65, someone with a suppressed immune system or anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
"Breakfast, lunch and dinner," Davila said. "That's what it's all about. They appreciate it. They appreciate our help. That means a lot to them. I see us doing this long term."
Janelle Williams and Deputy Cristal Bustamante, with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, were among the volunteers delivering meals.
"We have the ability to be out and we’re going to do our part," Williams said.
Healthy Souls still needs help from the community. Davila said the nonprofit team has lost out on some donations because they don’t have a truck that can handle large pallets of food and supplies.
“In the past, getting over 80,000 pounds of supplies to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian and over 100 tents and supplies to Puerto Rico after the earthquakes cost us thousands in truck rentals,” she said. “Then yesterday, after filling a trailer that a business owner generously allowed us to use, (we) ended up getting stuck on the side of the road. We had to go and unload it into each of our vehicles, making multiple trips because it had more weight than it could handle.”
Over the next few weeks, the nonprofit plans to ramp up its work helping the community with more food drives to help continue its mission.
“We also are praying we can be prepared for hurricane season, which is less than a month away,” Davila said. “We desperately need our own truck. We are on the lookout for a 26-foot with a liftgate and a pallet jack, because we don’t have a forklift.”
Anyone who would like to help Healthy Souls find a vehicle to support its mission can contact Davila at 386-679-1359 or visit www.healthysoulsinternational.org.