Our agency hosts a monthly event called “The Last Saturday of The Month” where we provide free groceries, free haircuts, and free lunch. This event is open to anyone in need. During the holidays, we change the monthly event to provide a Thanksgiving and Christmas Luncheon. We have been providing this community event since 2008 in partnership with local churches, community groups, and volunteers. To date we have served over 4,281 people, more than 50% of which were families. Some of the families we serve do not have the funds to buy groceries, and our LSOM Event temporarily provides for that need. Holding this event aligns with our agency’s ministry work to uplift people through fellowship by sharing good food, good company, and music. We strive to reach out to our community with open arms and share our resources to those in need. The event also serves as community outreach for people with urgent needs and provide direct referrals to our services in The Resource Center.
Who do you serve at LSOM?
Those we serve at our LSOM event come from the City of Oviedo, Seminole, Orange, Brevard, Osceola, and Volusia Counties in State of Florida; their ages range from young to mature. This is an open community event for anyone in need.
When did LSOM start?
The first LSOM Event began in 2008. It began as a Thanksgiving Luncheon with a partnership with local churches and community groups. Twenty-three people from the City of Oviedo and Seminole County attended the event. “I wanted to create an event for outreach for people to be uplifted, there was not anything like it in Oviedo. I wanted to provide a connection with others for guidance and linkages to our resources.” ~ Cindy Cook, Founder and Executive Director
Since the first Thanksgiving Luncheon, our agency has partnered with the First Baptist Church of Oviedo to provide a stable venue to hold the annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, which has now increased to over 375 people. We intend to continue to serve as many as we can. Over 5,879 people in our community have been served through program services in The Resource Center since 2011. Of these, 4,281 were served at our LSOM events.
During the holidays, the event becomes a time to celebrate; with a holiday meal for those who may not otherwise have the means to do so. Our agency hosts the Thanksgiving Luncheon event the day before Thanksgiving, open to all, with free lunch, free groceries, and a special drawing for holiday gifts for over 375 people. For Christmas, we host the event one week before Christmas day, open to all, with free lunch, free groceries, and toys for children serving over 400 people. We collaborate with local churches and other community organizations to give the free lunches and provide free groceries. To date, this ongoing event has been sustained through fundraisers, in-kind donations, and food-drives. The overall goal is to promote fellowship, health, wellness, stability, and hunger relief in our community.
How is LSOM funded?
Currently, our agency has maintained the ability to meet the needs of our community through our LSOM event by the donations we receive from food-drives, in-kind donations, leveraged resources from our collaborative partners, revenue generated from our thrift store, and fundraising.
Who are your partners for LSOM?
Our agency has been successful in sustaining long-term partnerships with major donation partners for our LSOM Event including First Baptist Church Oviedo, The GFWC Oviedo Woman’s Club, City of Oviedo, City of Oviedo Fire Department, Antioch Baptist Church, National Christian Foundation Orlando, The Master’s Academy, First United Methodist Church of Oviedo, River of Life Church, The United Methodist Women of The First United Methodist Church, Christian Chamber of Commerce, and Dollar General Oviedo. First Baptist Church of Oviedo as well as other local church and community groups volunteer to provide the free lunches. Local hairstylists volunteer to provide the free haircuts.
How do you prepare for LSOM?
In order to host the LSOM event every month, it takes our agency a large amount of coordination and planning. Our agency has continued to meet the rising need in our community month to month through consistent planning, coordination, and communication with collaborative partners.
Our agency coordinates to have 3 staff members present in addition to 20 volunteers to run the event every month. Food donations are also coordinated and collected for free groceries every month for distribution at the event. Our agency pre-plans to provide free groceries for at least 200 people, including individuals and families. The free lunch menu is selected by the local church group and all food and serving supplies are coordinated and collected from donations for at least 150 people. Confirmation is made to have at a minimum two local volunteer hairstylists available to provide free haircuts for at least 25 people. Haircuts are no longer provided on a first-come, first serve basis, as our priority is now to serve new people who are receiving a free haircut for the first time. Depending upon availability, arrangements are made for local entertainment, these include music, face painting, and other types of “family-friendly” fun.
During the holidays, our agency hosts a Thanksgiving Luncheon the day before Thanksgiving serving at least 375 people and a Christmas Luncheon serving at least 400 people the week before Christmas. The holiday luncheons take the place of LSOM event during November and December. Through consistent planning and coordination, we strive to ensure the community will continue to receive the same quality services from our agency that they have come to rely on.
“We will keep doing it, people come from all over, and there is a real need, so we will always continue to do it. It gives us a great ability to connect and meet people face-to-face in fellowship and help them with our resources.” ~ Cindy Cook, Founder and Executive Director
How can I help?
There are several ways you can help! Here’s how:
- You can help support our LSOM event by donating canned food and non-perishable food items to our emergency food pantry. These food donations help us provide free groceries to needy individuals and families.
- Donations of travel size personal care items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, mouthwash, deodorant etc.) to make personal care kits to pass out for those in need at our LSOM event
- Donations of baby items (baby food, formula, diapers) for those families who come to our LSOM event with emergency baby needs.
- We are also need of items to help us continue to host our event and accommodate the growing number of people we continue to serve. Our LSOM wishlist includes new chairs, new tables, E-Z Up Tents, paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, disposable table cloths, and disposable chafers to help keep food warm during the event.
Monetary donations are always appreciated and are also needed!
Cash, Checks, or Money Orders can be mailed to:
PO Box 623249 Oviedo Fla 32762
You can also donate directly on our website through PayPal.
How do we evaluate LSOM?
On April 26, 2014, our agency implemented a satisfaction survey. The survey will be ongoing and administered to people attending LSOM events to obtain feedback on our agency services. During the LSOM events from April through October 2014, we have collected 116 surveys.