Groceries were handed out for the greater good on Thursday in front of the Islamorada Moose Lodge. Teaming up with The SOS Foundation, members and volunteers from both organizations spent the morning and early afternoon loading groceries bags into vehicles, two at a time.

Set up as a drive-thru model, cars lined the Old Highway Way as members and volunteers grabbed grocery bags from the table and placed them into the trunks. Directing traffic was none other than State Attorney Dennis Ward, who joked with one motorist that in exchange, “we’ll take toilet paper.”

Natalie Nites, of The SOS Foundation in the Upper Keys, brings bags of groceries out to the table for distribution. SOS and the Islamorada Moose Lodge teamed up to hand out food items to the community on Thursday.

In all, 200 bags were packed by members of the Moose Lodge and SOS. They consisted of nonperishables, such as rice, applesauce, pasta and tomato sauce, as well as produce and frozen meat. 

For SOS, providing goods and services to the indigent and underprivileged population of Monroe County is its mission. In the Upper Keys, food is provided every Monday at St. Justin’s Martyr Church in Key Largo. On Stock Island, the food pantry is open Monday through Thursday. 

Lindsea White hands two bags of groceries to a motorist.

SOS and Natalie Nites, who runs services in the Upper Keys, acknowledged that the demand grew as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. St. Justin’s alone serves 125 on average. But last week, she said they served just over 240.

To fulfill a growing need, SOS began to look for another site to hand out groceries to those in need. And that’s when the Islamorada Moose Lodge stepped in. 

Joan Scholz places groceries into a van. Also pictured are Bette Brown and Sandi Williams.

“They offered us their site to do this today, so we’re partnering with them to provide food to the community,” she said. “Their volunteers have been great from packing to handing groceries out.”

Among the ones handing out groceries were members and volunteers Bette Brown and Joan Scholz. “It’s been very busy all morning,” Scholz said. 

State Attorney Dennis Ward directs traffic as motorists line up in front of the Islamorada Moose Lodge to obtain their groceries on Thursday morning. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

A major contributor to the community through its annual Seafood Fest, administrator Tony Corallo said they teamed up with SOS to assist in the effort. 

“This is what it’s all about in Monroe County,” he said. “This is a way we can help the community out, and it gives an opportunity for our staff to stay active. It’s a way to step up and help in this time of need, and that’s what we do best.”

SOS says they’re grateful for the Moose Lodge in not only allowing them to use space, but for also offering assistance and time to make it all possible.

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