Leticia Perez needed help from Harry Chapin to survive. Now, she is helping others.

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FILE: WINK News anchor Lois Thome helps volunteers give back to the community at the Harry Chapin Food Bank’s first ever Family Volunteer Day. (Credit: WINK News/FILE)

The WINK News Feeds Families Hunger Walk is three days away and we are over $100,000 short of our goal. Without the remaining funds, many people will suffer.

For Leticia Perez, she knows what it is like to need help. She remembers the days when she came to the mobile food pantry with her mother. She no longer needs help anymore, so she wants to give back to those that do.

“I’m very thankful for the assistance they gave me at the time that I needed it,” Perez said. “I wanted to pay a little bit back of what they had given me. So I started volunteering in several places.”

The mobile food pantry in Bonita Springs is one of those places. It serves around 175 families per distribution. Perez said, giving back is a humbling experience.

“You hear a lot of stories,” Perez said. “You get to know a lot of people and you think your problem is the worst. But when it comes to knowing people who come through here, there are people who are in worse situations than you were in.”

The Hunger Walk is Saturday, Jan. 18, at Miromar Outlets. Our goal is to raise $300,000, so we still have a lot of fundraising to do. If we fail, families in Southwest Florida will go without basic needs.

Monica Correa, a program outreach manager for the Harry Chapin Food Bank, said from the money WINK raises, she sees how each week the mobile pantries lift people up.

“The truck brings the opportunity to the families,” Correa said. “It’s so rewarding and I’m so grateful to be able to do this and to serve the community.”

Those around her feel Perez’s warm presence and leadership and she does not plan on stopping anytime soon.

“I’ll volunteer until I can,” Perez said. “If you need the assistance, come. Everybody’s welcome. Nobody’s turned back or turned around. Even if we have a little bit, we’ll share it with everybody.”

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