CLEARWATER — Two blue barrels stand near the entrance door to the Regency Heights Co-op mobile home park clubhouse at 2550 State Road 580 E.
Residents collect food all year long for the Religious Community Services Food Bank. But they kick it up a notch around the holidays.
This year, RCS had better send a big truck.
"Every third Thursday of the month we have a dinner," said Dollie Hoover, 78, president of the park's social club. "In November, it's a turkey dinner. In exchange for a dinner ticket, last year we asked people to donate a can of soup and one of tuna. This year, we asked for two of each."
The clubhouse seats 200 and in less than a week all 200 tickets were gone and more than 800 cans of soup and tuna had been donated.
Why soup and tuna? Those were not random choices.
"We received a call from a resident of Regency Heights asking what our high needs were," said Lisa Matzner, director of development for RCS. "We appreciate that and we're really excited to partner with them to meet the hunger needs of people."
Hoover and her husband, Tom, 70, kept track of the donations and tried pyramid stacking. The cans tumbled. The two made long rows and stacked them across the entire stage in the clubhouse.
"We're trying to do our part to help those in need," said Michael J. Mauger, president of the Regency Heights Co-op. "With the down economy, food banks are running low. People who can are helping those who need help. Even people who can't really afford to have donated."
To further support RCS, the social club began a penny drive in April.
Dottie Hoover said she read a story in the St. Petersburg Times earlier this year about Doral Village mobile home park on U.S. 19 having a penny drive and raising $1,700 for Ronald McDonald houses in St. Petersburg.
"I have to give them credit, but thought if they can do that so can we," said Hoover, who moved into Regency Heights in 1998.
The pennies will be donated to RCS, but there's a little side competition.
On Dec. 22, residents who give $1 will have a chance to guess how many pennies are in the jug. The person who is closest to the amount won't win anything — just the satisfaction of being right. The money from that dollar drive will go toward buying Christmas decorations and support club activities.
Only Hoover knows how many pennies have been collected so far and she's not telling.
Hoover says she remembers the Great Depression and if it weren't for the kindness of strangers her family wouldn't have had enough to eat.
"At Regency Heights, we're trying to support the food bank," she said. "We're doing this to help out because nobody should go hungry."