CLRVR Food Drive – The Rest of the Story

by | Mar 27, 2023 | Stories

July 2023 Crystal Lake RV Resort Food Drive Update:  Here a link to the St. Matthew’s House Food Assistance Newsletter I just received.  Scroll down towards the bottom to see the mention of the CLRVR record breaking results.
St. Matthew’s House Food Assistance Newsletter (

Gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.  You did it!  The story written below (in case you didn’t see it previously) gives a little more perspective, including pictures, about the 2023 food drive in the park.  The first ever official food drive was challenging and very rewarding.

Per my conversation with Board Member, Bill Whitehead and POA Staff, please note your calendars with the 2024 CLRVR Food Drive scheduled for 3/22/24 in the Main Club House again.   It will be so fun and heartwarming to see what Crystal Lakers will do in 2024.


3/15/23 CLRVR Food Drive-The Rest of the Story

Some of you will recall the Popular TV Show Dragnet that spawned the catch phrase “Just the facts ma’am from a comment by Sgt. Joe Friday.  Here are “just the facts” for the First ever full-fledged March 15, 2023, CLRVR Food Drive.  Warning, my facts may include a few editorial comments.  Stop here if you’re not really interested.  Continue if you are.  Pictures tell a thousand words, but first, the rest of my story.

Nancy F, a pillar of the CLRVR community, told me that she and her late husband “O” started the first St. Matthews collections box.  They used to take donations of clothing and household items to St. Matthews.  It has grown ever since.  She sent me some supportive and encouraging emails about our Food Drive efforts.  There was also concern expressed about how we might thank the CL contributors.  But first…..

Here’s how it began….I invited a couple other CLRVR residents to join me and was inspired to learn more about the St. Matthews Food Mission after volunteering twice at a St. Matthews Food Distribution event at the Lely Elementary School.  They were well organized events where I met a very passionate and vivacious St. Matthews Food Program employee.  He was welcoming to us as “newbies” and invited me to tour their store and warehouse facility.  I engaged a few more CLRVR residents to go on the tour where we were greeted enthusiastically, factually, humorously, and empathetically.

The first stop at the warehouse was in the St. Matthew Client Pantry Store.  Shelves and food cooler units are stocked like a cute grocery store providing free shopping experiences for St. Matthews clients. The store also includes some modern grow lights for fresh herbs.  Food donations come from a variety of sources including restaurants and grocery stores.

Next, we toured the warehouse area where food packages are assembled for the various types of food distribution drives and events. I hope to gather a group of 15-20 CLRVR’s (a few have already signed up) to assemble food packages in April.  In a pre-food drive reminder, I mentioned some facts about the warehouse volunteer opportunity.  The warehouse is not well air-conditioned and requires standing on your feet for a few hours. Dressing cool and keeping hydrated are important for this work.

Accompanying us on our tour was a St. Mathews House Food Program Specialist who graciously offered to provide us with additional information on other Food Mission Volunteer opportunities.  Soon I received well explained material on how to hold a Food Drive with their help and tools.  They would provide the bins, bin delivery, event signage, and bin pick up services.  What more could I ask for to facilitate a food drive at Crystal Lake?

Well, first I thought it would be a good idea to tell Scott what I was up to now.  Yes, he was on board to assist.  We are compatible in this respect and thrive on helping each other and others.  We believe it is one of the best ways we can demonstrate “love your neighbor” and kindness to our friends, neighbors, and most of all to our grandchildren.  We’ve done this for years and love our Red Cross Disaster Responder and Blood Transportation Work.  Keeps us young.  Keeps us moving. I highly recommend it.

Back to facts:  Next steps were to determine a date that would be mutually convenient for the St. Matthews Schedule, our schedule, and space availability at CL.  Since CL already has a St. Matthews donation presence in the MCH Laundry room, it made sense to use that space if possible.  We measured and had St. Matthews visit to help determine compatibility with their bin size and delivery system.  It would work!   Permission was given through Social Rec for 1 bin for one day.

The Food Drive advertising to CL residents and renters began.  I easily created the promotional tag line, “Crystal Lake is Simply the Best Because We “Can.”  Crystal Laker’s “Can” and Do repeatedly.

Rita D recognized the space limitation of the Laundry Room and suggested the MCH space where the golf cart sits during the Fun Fest Raffle might work better.  So, my asking/coaxing for a 2nd bin began. I “knew”  I just knew that Crystal Lake’s generosity would easily overflow 1 bin and I was concerned about appearances and the pick-up process when that occurred.  Two bins were approved, and I was relieved and thankful.  Beyond that I didn’t know what to expect.

Food Ambassadors were recruited from any group or committee willing to do so.  Margaret D. suggested a bookmark for the Women’s bible study group.  I printed and cut over 200 bookmarks that the Ambassadors used, and we handed out like crazy any time we could.  The Food Drive was announced at Bountiful Breakfast and more bookmarks were distributed.  Follow-up Food Drive emails were sent by me and Scott on Crystal Lake Friends. Tracey sent several notices through the POA email system. The Food Drive effort was also announced and encouraged at the Crystal Lake Community Church.

The Food Drive bins arrived at 3:00 p.m. sharp on Tuesday March 14th.  Scott and I were in attendance to receive them and the large A-frame event advertising signs.  We guided the delivery staff to place the bins properly and then hung around to admire them.

The BIG event day started at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday March 15th when Scott placed the A-Frame signs that we’d stored in our car overnight.  We didn’t want any unnecessary clutter at the MCH. Officially the Food Drive was advertised to start at 8:00 a.m.  Scott and I were there ready and waiting at 7:30 a.m.  We listened in on the Coffee Group conversation and jokes until CL donators and donations started arriving.

By 10:00 a.m. the two bins were already almost full.  By 10:30-11:00 the two bins were starting to overflow.  Oh my gosh! I was overwhelmed in all sorts of ways by the CLRVR donation response.  Now what?  It called for emergency donation generosity measures, so I called for 2 more bins at approximately 11:30 a.m. when donations were starting to stack up on the floor around the bin in the MCH. We were going to need at least 4, count them four bins and I only had approval for 2.  The bin delivery person was in Fort Meyers, and he could bring us 2 more bins by 1:30.   I was going to be in trouble; but that wouldn’t be the first time.  We would be somehow dealing with or shuffling 4 bins and more food for 1 ½ hours until 3:00 p.m.  It was a good problem to have.  I’ll take the blame and heat to feed more people. The CL generosity could not be denied or refused.

3:00 p.m. arrived and St. Matthews bin pick-up staff were waiting in the MCH parking lot.  I cannot say enough GOOD about St. Matthews staff, the process, their punctuality, and support at all levels in ALL ways.  Four bins and their food contents were quickly and efficiently loaded, and as if we waved a magic wand they disappeared.  They were on their way to the Food warehouse for the inventory process.  The chairs and table in the Laundry Room were moved back into their exact position.   The chair and floor plant were moved back in place by the mirror in the MCH.  No one would have guessed the Huge 4 bin food drive had miraculously occurred from the generous hearts, wallets, and pantries of Crystal Lakers.  A Board Member walked through slightly afterwards and was probably surprised and hopefully pleased to see the results.

St. Matthews house agreed to provide us with blank thank you notes.  Scott and I will compose, print, and distribute approximately 100 thank you’s to people who signed the Donation Logs.  There were others who did not choose or have time to sign the donation log.  We thanked them as much as possible in person as they arrived with their plentiful donations.  EVERYONE’s contribution in any way and in any amount was extremely appreciated. CL residents & renters are genuinely and profusely kind-hearted.

Now back to what we’ve been waiting for…..the FACTS, just the facts, ma’am!  Scott’s playing a Group Therapy Band drum roll……According to the St. Matthews House inventory process counting items and current dollar valuation, CRYSTAL LAKE RV RESORT HAS SET A NEW RECORD FOR A ONE DAY FOOD COLLECTION EVENT!  Quoting St. Matthews staff directly:

“CLRVR now holds the highest total for St. Matthew’s House Food Assistance Program – making it a record-breaking amount for a one-day food drive!

Total number of food items donated                2,090

Total value of the food items donated:         $4,749.46 Feeds approximately 200 families

Continuing the quote from St. Matthews Staff:

“This result is incredible, and we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping to feed our community and for your hard work and sacrifice to care for others who are hurting. Your generous and loving food donations help us to be able to continue our outreach through the Community Choice Pantry and our mobile food distributions in our communities. We so appreciate you! May God continue to bless you all.” “Thank you so much for your continued support, what an amazing turnout!!  I am without words that your community was able to do so much within one day.”

It is an understatement to say Crystal Laker’s “Can” and are Simply the Best….over, and over, and over again.  Thank you Crystal Lakers over and over and over again!

How it Began

How It All Stacked Up

How It Ended


  1. You and Scott deserve a special “Thank You”! Your passion was infectious! That morning while shopping at ALDIs there were so many from CL there too!

    • Thank you Barb. We proudly saw and heard so many enthusiastic Crystal Lakers. Scott is to be commended for supporting me and this endeavor. He never knows for sure what adventure I’m going to solicit his help with next.

  2. What a wonderful idea and what a truly wonderful outcome! We’ll be happy to help as much as we can in the April sort! Congratulations to all involved!

  3. Thank you and Scott for all your hard work for such a great cause. Bill and I have done work with our local food pantry. It is nice to feel part of helping others in need. Keep the good work up!

    Mary and Bill Toth

    • Greetings and thank you Bill and Mary. It was a humbling project.

  4. From Linda S: Wow Sylvia
    Really enjoyed your story and also appreciated the donations of all. You are a great writer!
    Linda S

    • Thank you for your kind words Linda.

  5. Thanks for organizing this important Food event.

    A wonderful “feel Good” story told in a gracious way.

    We are so proud to be a part of Crystal Lake RV Resort.

    J & D Bragg

  6. Great update! Wonderful news about next season, too!

    K & K Burke

  7. Thank you for your time and work in organizing this and stirring up interest to make this such a successful drive.

    • Everyone’s interest and participation is awesome. Thank you.

  8. So glad we did so good!! We already know Crystal Lake is the best for sure. Thanks for organizing it and the update!!!!

    B & C Schaffer

  9. Great article Sylvia. Wonderful cooperation from all. Thanks for heading up this initiative.
    L and G Schomer


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Based out of Champlin, Minnesota. Serving and Welcoming Creativity and Humor 

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