TALLAHASSEE, FL. (WTXL) - Are you wondering when your next meal is coming? Sadly in Florida, close to 3.5 million residents do. According to Feeding Florida, the Sunshine State has more than 3.4 Million residents, including 1.1 Million children, who are food-insecure.
The mission for Americas Second Harvest of the Big Bend is to provide meals and food for area agencies helping to feed the hungry. But its a group of men just chilling out are making a difference.
The group is of retirees. All have worked important high profile jobs and now that it's time to slow down they have a new mission in life, helping others.
For most people when you think about Florida you think of sunshine and palm trees, you don't think about a Polar Bear Cub. The Second Harvest of the Big Bend has one and they work in 48 degree temperatures.
Wayne McDaniel who retired from state government explains how the group got started, "The group of guys got together and started talking about coming out here and working in the cooler and Nat Toulong who is one of our guys went looking on the internet and found these little white Polar Bears that he can get and he said we'll call ourselves the Polar Bear Club because we're going to be in the freezer and working in the freezer. And it just took from that."
Twice a week for about four hour shifts, the retirees are boxing and sorting. They start the morning off at a local breakfast spot to catch up and tell stories. Then it's off to the Second Harvest Warehouse where they box up frozen goods for area families. But it's what they did before retiring that makes their service special.
The group is made up of a hand full of men. Wilson Endfinger was a wound care nurse and retired from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. John Kessler retired after spending 32 years in financing. Austin Tatum worked as a Automotive Parts Distributor Director before calling it quits. Nat Toulong was a banker and spent 22 years with the State Treasury Department. He was the first computer network engineer at the state capitol. And Jimbo Harrison, he was a back seat Navy fighter pilot before working and retiring from EDS. All successful and Now all giving back.
NAT Toulong a retiree and former state treasury official says, "We love it. We're all really close friends and we have a good time joking and laughing. It's a good thing there is no camera in here because we get pretty crazy in here sometimes."
In total the Polar Bears will separate and box 800, 30-pounds boxes of food every week.
According to Toulong, "It's a very warm and fuzzy feeling for all the work that we do and all the hunger families that we feed and I'm very proud to be here."
McDaniel says, "Many of the children without us would have any food. So when we feed them they get better grades in school and hopefully with better careers in life."
And will hopefully return the service and give back. Building better stewards of humanity.
If you're interested in helping out call Second Harvest of the Big Bend at (850) 562-3033.