The local Knights of Columbus donated $500 to the Estero Bay Kindness Coalition and its food program for local schools kids. Pictured from left are: Grand Knight Ron Vasconcellos; Pamela Harris with the Kindness Coalition; John Lalley of the Knights of Columbus; Coalition founder Bobby DeLancellotti; and Avocado Shack owner, Michael Wolfe. Photo by Neil Farrell
The local Knights of Columbus again showed some kindness for the Estero bay Kindness Coalition who help make sure that local needy families can feed their children.
Ron Vasconcellos, the grand knight of the Knights of Columbus, Council No. 5175, was on hand recently to give a donation of $500 to Bobby DeLancellotti, the founder of the Kindness Coalition at the organization’s food pantry on North Main Street at the Avocado Shack.
The Knights, who are affiliated with St. Timothy’s in Morro Bay, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Los Osos and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cayucos, normally use coffee and goodies sales at the Annual Lighted Boat Parade to fund this donation. But as Estero Bay readers know, the parade was cancelled due to bad weather last December.
Vasconcellos said, “We donated last year and want to do it annually.” So the Knights dipped into their coffers to support the coalition this year. It’s hoped the weather doesn’t rain on next December’s boat parade.
The Kindness Coalition, started by DeLancellotti, his wife and a handful of volunteers, began when DeLancellotti, a pastor by trade, sought a way to help local school kids at Del Mar Elementary, which has a lot of children on the free lunch program.
What emerged was the “We got your back” a program wherein the coalition fills a backpack with enough food for two days that the kids take home every Friday, returning the empty packs on Mondays to be refilled.
The immediate popularity of the program showed what tremendous need there was in the community.
Pamela Harris, one of the coalition’s original volunteers who now manages the food pantry, said the backpacks contain two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners. And from what started as just a handful of Del Mar kids, has blossomed into a regional food program, serving hundreds of kids from several local schools.
Harris explained that they got lists of needy students from the schools and drop off the packs at the various school campuses.
“We started with 10 backpacks,” said Harris, who added that she “does the shopping” for the organization,.
That shopping includes to an Amazon Wish List, wherein they can order food stuffs and have it shipped directly to the pantry on North Main Street.
They also partner with the County Food Bank where they receive some 1,200 pounds of non-perishable food and fresh veggetables. So each backpack now has non-perishables and a bag of veggies, Harris said.
During COVID, when local schools were closed for remote learning, Harris said they were delivering directly to the families’ doors. They were delivering to 79 families in Los Osos, and 87 in Morro Bay via some 19 volunteers drivers.
Now, they have a total of about 90 kids from Cambria, Cayucos, and Morro Bay, but not Los Osos, which she said has a whole different setup. “We’re looking for a place in Los Osos so we can expand,” Harris said.
She said the program has spread through word of mouth and “If someone is ‘under resourced” we’d be glad to help you.” They added five more families after the recent storms.
Harris said using donated funds, they “shop” at Costco, Grocery Outlet, the Dollar Stores, and online they buy from Target, Amazon and Walmart.
If readers would like to donate to the cause, they can get information from the coalition’s website, see: esterobaykindnesscoalition.org.