Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Tampa training center stuffing goody bags for Republican National Convention

TAMPA

Daniel Aboud walks down the line of boxes, stuffing a canvas bag with items ranging from a can of Coke to Mitt Romney's book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.

It is one of 14,000 goody bags that he and fellow workers at MacDonald Training Center will fill with 144,000 items for delegates, VIPs and media coming to Tampa for the Republican National Convention, Aug. 27-30.

Aboud, 29, and his fellow workers are part of a vast group of people, from caterers to bus drivers, responsible in ways large and small for making the event happen. But unlike thousands of others involved, Aboud doesn't know what the convention is and that he is a part of it. He just likes working at MacDonald Training Center.

All that Coke, he says while he stuffs a bag, "makes us thirsty."

MacDonald is a private, nonprofit organization that serves adults with disabilities, most of them developmental such as mental retardation. It has about 600 clients in its Tampa facility in the West Shore area and another one in Plant City. One of its main goals is teaching to those capable the skills to live and work in the community at varying levels of independence.

To that end, the center contracts with businesses to provide services such as packaging, shipping and light manufacturing. All contracts must offer a training opportunity. Most are on-going such as the contract with the Florida Department of Transportation to package and ship the SunPass transponder.

Assembling hospitality bags for the convention is, of course, temporary. And in some ways it is an exception in that the task is not really a training opportunity the way sewing SeaGrass Recovery sediment tubes, for example, is. But MacDonald's leaders saw it as a form of community outreach and expanding connections.

"One of our patrons brought some of the Host Committee to our art gallery for a reception," said Rita Hattab, community relations coordinator. "We took them on a tour of the facility to show them what we do and they suggested we bid on assembling the goody bags."

She couldn't say how much the center is being paid because of a confidentiality agreement but said, "Our bid came in under their budget." All the workers are paid by the hour or the piece depending on their skill level.

The RNC bags are filled quickly by the clients who return to the beginning of the line and repeat the process for about two hours before lunch break. Hattab said they don't find the work boring; instead, the repetition and ability to work with few mistakes give the clients confidence.

"They're good at what they do, and they know it," she said.

After the bags are completed, checked for accuracy by staff members and boxed, they are tagged with UPS shipping labels and sent to area hotels.

A lot of planning was needed before the assembly line stuffing began because there are three categories of bags and not all items go into all bags. Delegates get the fattest ones with 12 out of a possible 15 items. Media will have eight in their bags, including a tin of breath mints and a sun kit with sunglasses, sunscreen and handheld fan.

Unlike the delegates and VIPs, who will receive canvas totes decorated with the convention logo, the media bags are smaller and made from laminated fabric with scenes from Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens is also putting small plush giraffes in the delegate and VIP bags.

Gladys Ruttell, 55, is one of the few at MacDonald who understands that the bags are for the convention, "which," she describes as "like a senate."

She finds the toy giraffes "cute."

"But," she said, "why don't they put an elephant in there?"

Lennie Bennett can be reached at (727) 893-8293 or [email protected]

Comments
Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

TAMPA — The season started in August with “Hard Knocks,” packed bleachers at training camp and cheers for coach Dirk Koetter.It ended Sunday with a 24-21 loss to the Lions, a lot of empty seats and chants of “We want Gruden ba...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 11

Monday’s scoreboardGirls soccerDixie Hollins 4, Boca Ciega 0Palm Harbor U. 2, Countryside 2Osceola 7, Northeast 0Largo 1, Seminole 0Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 3, Northside Chr. 1Palm Harbor U. 4, Countryside 1...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.The Rockies and Mets joined ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., Dec. 11, midday:32 251 1266e_SRit91903Mon., Dec. 11, evening:52 400 7181e_SRit23090Fantasy 5Mon., Dec. 11...
Updated: 6 hours ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot ShotsEmily Joseph, NortheastJoseph, a senior, has been a deadly shooter since her sophomore year. But this season she has added to her game. "She’s gotten physically stronger and has gained confidence," coach Will White said. "She used t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida A&M names Willie Simmons football coach

Florida A&M names Willie Simmons football coach

TALLAHASSEE — Willie Simmons was named football coach at Florida A&M on Monday. The Tallahassee native will be introduced today. Simmons, 37, has been the coach at Prairie View A&M the past three seasons (21-11, including 6-5 this season). He played ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The latest obstacle keeping the Rays from contending in the American League East loomed even larger Monday afternoon in pinstripes.The Yankees’ formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton also could be an accelerant to the departure o...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

TAMPA — When her apartment complex caught fire Monday afternoon, Peaches McIntyre grabbed her four children and baby stroller and ran outside.Hours later, she looked at the smoldering building with her 5-year-old autistic son, Choice Underwood, huggi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
3 Trump accusers call for congressional inquiry; Pentagon to allow transgender people to enlist; 18 win anti-Trump climate grants; more in U.S., world news

3 Trump accusers call for congressional inquiry; Pentagon to allow transgender people to enlist; 18 win anti-Trump climate grants; more in U.S., world news

United States3 Trump accusers speak, hoping to be heard nowThree women who have previously accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment shared their stories Monday on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today. Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks s...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Judge denies former Clearwater fire chief’s motion for a new trial

Judge denies former Clearwater fire chief’s motion for a new trial

A Pinellas circuit judge denied a bid for a new trial in the case of Jamie Geer, the former Clearwater fire chief serving a life sentence for sexually abusing a girl throughout her childhood.Geer, now 63, was in court in October seeking the new trial...
Updated: 7 hours ago