DaVita Employees Pack School Supplies for Schools in Jamaica

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2016)  Five hundred backpacks and sackpacks with supplies for students in Jamaica were carefully packed by an assembly line of DaVita teammates at Food For The Poor's Coconut Creek headquarters Wednesday.

Thirty-five DaVita staff members from all over the southeastern United States visited the charity to fill the backpacks with pencils, erasers, crayons and other essential items children need to do well in school.

The Office Depot Foundation, a longtime partner with Food For The Poor, donated the colorful sackpacks.

The supplies will be delivered to Mount Airy Primary & Infant School in Jamaica, a place where many of the children do not even have a pencil and paper to take to class, where parents struggle day to day to survive and provide food for their children.

DaVita is a large healthcare organization that provides dialysis to kidney patients throughout the United States. The company was one of the top fundraising teams at Food For The Poor's first Join The Pack last June, where more than 100,000 lifesaving meals were packed by volunteers at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton to help starving families in Haiti.

"At DaVita, one of our principles is a trilogy of care. We believe in taking care of our patients and taking care of each other. We call each other teammates. But we also believe in taking care of our communities. Food For The Poor believes in the same," said Kenny Gardner, Group Vice President of DaVita Kidney Care.

Gardner presented a check from DaVita to Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. The check will cover the cost of the backpacks and supplies as well as support the charity's second Join The Pack on April 28 and 29 at Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton.

Vicki Burrier, Divisional Vice President of DaVita Healthcare Partners in Pompano Beach, began supporting Food For The Poor after she traveled to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

"I saw the needs and the incredible hardship of the people there. And it made me want to be a part of this," Burrier said. "Just knowing the joy the kids will have for having received something, from someone they don't even know, and the opportunity to learn and grow from these tools, that's what makes this so rewarding."

Andrea Pizzuti, Regional Operations Director for DaVita in Ocala, Fla., said she enjoyed working with teammates to fill the backpacks to make a difference for others less fortunate.

"Any time you have the opportunity to give back, you should," Pizzuti said. "Food For The Poor is an amazing operation. This is a cause near and dear to my heart."

"It's a good feeling inside to know that you're helping someone that potentially you won't have the opportunity to see or touch but know that your effort is going out to somebody who is in need," said Jay Johnston, Group Finance Director for DaVita in Charlotte, N.C.

In addition to packing, DaVita teammates also wrote holiday messages of encouragement to children who will receive the backpacks.

To watch a video of the packing event, visit www.FoodForThePoor.org/davita.

Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma thanked DaVita employees for their generous contribution and said the backpacks would bring joy to many lives.

"You will be helping students who have likely never received a backpack in their life, who have likely never received a gift in their life," Aloma said. "The experience you give them is one of feeling remembered. It's not the material that the backpacks are made from, it's not what comes inside of it, it's the fact they experience being remembered by people who they do not know. That makes them feel so good."

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Michael Turnbell

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054