TALLAHASSEE — Today, Volunteer Florida’s north Florida AmeriCorps programs presented America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of the Big Bend with food donations they had collected throughout the week in a project called “I CAN.” This annual service project is organized in conjunction with the national celebration of AmeriCorps Week, March 9-17, which spotlights the vital work of AmeriCorps members across the U.S.

AmeriCorps members serving with Goodwill Industries, Inc. – Big Bend, Communities In Schools of Florida and Gadsden County Schools participated in the food drive by collecting and sorting the donations to benefit local families dealing with hunger. AmeriCorps members were proud to deliver 3,054 pounds of food, which will provide 2,545 meals – and more donations are still coming in. Second Harvest serves more than 33,000 people every month across the Big Bend region, one-third of whom are children, and 11% are seniors.

“We are proud to administer AmeriCorps for the State of Florida and grateful for the AmeriCorps members who are getting things done in our communities,” said Chester Spellman, CEO of Volunteer Florida. “Today’s donation drive is an excellent example of how many Floridians are impacted by our talented corps of 1,366 AmeriCorps members.”

“We are thrilled with the response from the ICAN food drive. These AmeriCorps members embody the spirit of community service and have gone above and beyond their daily roles of improving our local community to helping collect food for us at such a critical time,” said Paul Clements, Development Director for Second Harvest. “These donations will be sorted over the next week and distributed to families throughout our 11 county service area who are struggling with hunger.”

“Communities In Schools is a proud supporter and partner of AmeriCorps,” said Stephanie Webb, program coordinator for the AmeriCorps VISTA program at Communities In Schools of Leon County. “The reality for many students is, ‘A hungry stomach speaks louder than a teacher.’ The ICAN project will bring relief and comfort to many across Florida, especially children served by Communities In Schools. We are privileged as beneficiaries of their commitment to answer the nation’s call to service.”

Since 1994, more than 800,000 Americans across the country have given more than 1 billion hours of service through AmeriCorps. Every year, more than 75,000 AmeriCorps members meet pressing community needs across the country – strengthening education, assisting veterans and military families, providing disaster services, fostering economic opportunity, expanding health services and preserving the environment. Serving at more 15,000 locations, AmeriCorps members recruited and managed more than four million volunteers last year, boosting the impact of the nonprofit and faith-based organizations they serve.

“AmeriCorps members are improving the lives of millions of citizens and making a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. “AmeriCorps Week is an opportunity to recognize their impact and thank them for their service. AmeriCorps members and the millions of volunteers they manage are an indispensable resource to our nation, and we are grateful for their dedicated service.”

AmeriCorps members typically remain actively engaged in their communities long after their service is complete. An AmeriCorps longitudinal study found that AmeriCorps alums are more attached to their communities, aware of community challenges, and significantly more likely to go into public service careers.

AmeriCorps Week is an annual event designed to salute AmeriCorps members and alums for their service, thank AmeriCorps’ community partners, and recognize AmeriCorps’ impact on communities and on the lives of those who serve. Hundreds of events are taking place across the United States – service projects, recruitment fairs, school presentations, alumni gatherings, awards ceremonies, and more. For more information visit AmeriCorps.gov.

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The Governor’s Commission on Community Service, Volunteer Florida, was established in 1994 by the Florida Legislature to administer grants under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The Commission grants funds to Florida AmeriCorps and National Service programs; coordinates volunteers in a disaster; and inspires everyone from youths to seniors to people with disabilities to serve their communities. For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.

AmeriCorps is a national service program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service each year and administers President Obama’s national service initiative United We Serve. Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and apply online by visiting AmeriCorps.gov.