OLDSMAR – The leader of an Oldsmar nonprofit was recently recognized as a Hometown Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
David Wallace, who has been on the board of the volunteer-based food pantry and community outreach center for more than 20 years, was honored as the seventh Lightning Community Hero this season during a game against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 1.
The recognition came with a $50,000 donation from the NHL team to Wallace, which will go toward the John and David Wallace Education Grant, according to Oldsmar Cares officials.
“With this donation, we will be able to assist more people to further their education though the Wallace Education Grant,” Wallace said of the grant, which was created to help the non-typical but deserving student. “We see so many people that have jobs, but just need a little extra help with their education, for a better job to support themselves and their family. We’ve assisted several people already get one step closer to their dreams of becoming a nurse, aviation maintenance technician and even a psychologist.”
Oldsmar Cares, which started in the back of a church in 1996 and recently moved into a new 3,000 square-foot headquarters on State Road 580, has grown from providing a few families with food and clothing to offering services such as stop-gap rent and utility assistance for roughly 2,000 families per year.
The organization, which hosts a fundraising gala at Nielsen every February, now number 300 volunteers, who all selflessly dedicate their time to the community.
“This was such a great night for all of us,” Brenda Gaulin, vice chairperson, Oldsmar Cares, said. “We have an amazing group of volunteers who give their time and talent to Oldsmar Cares. I’m so proud to be a part of this organization and work alongside David Wallace. It means so much to know that (Lightning owner) Jeffrey Vinik and the Tampa Bay Lightning believe in us and the work we’re doing in this close-knit community.”
According to a press release announcing the award, Wallace became the 330th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community.
Through the Predators’ game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $16.6 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.
During the summer of 2016, the Vinik’s announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.