OLDSMAR — On Saturday, June 26, Sharon Edwards and her small army of volunteers delivered thousands of pounds of food, dozens of pairs of socks, several boxes of toiletries and other supplies, plus hundreds of dollars in cash and gift cards, to Oldsmar Cares. The effort was the result of the monthlong Project POP Drop donation drive to benefit the nonprofit food pantry.
The POP, or Partners of Provision, program is a community-driven initiative started by California-based toner cartridge company Platinum International Products and Services in 2011 to provide the vital supplies to those in need through local philanthropic organizations.
In 2015, Edwards, CEO of the Project POP Drop Foundation, brought the drops to the Oldsmar area, and each June she works with city officials, area businesses and the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce to deliver thousands of dollars’ worth of essential goods to Oldsmar Cares.
“This is all from the 21 different pickup spots and then Platinum International bought $2,000 worth of food from toner sales,” Edwards said as a group of volunteers, including Oldsmar Vice Mayor Andrew Knapp and Council member Steve Graber, unloaded a truckful of goods at the facility at 149 SR 580.
Edwards acknowledged the ongoing coronavirus crisis has affected collections, including losing valuable donation points like schools and hospitals, but she pointed out Platinum International “has not missed one Project POP Drop ever, even during the pandemic. We were down to start the year but we’re starting to come back. Even the annual tailgate party at Walmart started slowly this year, but we had to buy more tubs and coolers and we did phenomenal there and it looks like we are right on track.”
Despite her desire to stay out of the spotlight, Edwards’ efforts to help those in need don’t go unnoticed.
“Sharon works tirelessly,” Knapp said as he and his infant daughter, Leona, helped unload the truck. “Oldsmar Cares is one in a rotation of events she organizes. The work she does is amazing, and it’s awesome we can do this for Oldsmar Cares.”
JoAnn Fitzpatrick, the facility’s operations director, agreed.
“This contribution is going to carry us through the summer,” Fitzpatrick said as she directed the assembly line of volunteers where to drop the supplies. “This is the sixth year in a row Sharon has done this and we’re just so grateful.”
For Edwards, it’s literally all in a day’s work.
“This is the finale of the efforts for one month,” she said with a smile on her face, adding, “Tomorrow I start all over again!”
For more information on Platinum International Products and Service’s monthly Project POP Drop initiative, visit the Project POP Drop Oldsmar Facebook page or contact Sharon Edwards at 727-475-1393.