For 28 years, the Cape Coral Caring Center Has Been there for People of All Ages in Times of Need

In a nondescript building near the intersection of Del Prado Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway, you will find a place full of love and generosity. The Cape Coral Caring Center was established in February 1990, and since then, it has been feeding and giving to those in our community who are in need.

“Our main service is food,” says Executive Director Julie Ferguson. “But we also offer much more.”

From free bus passes to help people seeking jobs and emergency funds to assist in paying utility bills to vouchers for clothing and items at the nearby Kiwanis Club Thrift Store, the Cape Coral Caring Center offers a comprehensive, one-stop shop to get people back on their feet.

“People walk through our doors expecting food, but they don’t often expect how much food they will get or know of all the other services we provide,” Julie says. “We give everyone almost a shopping cart full of food. Our philosophy is if we give people and families food for about a week, it reduces their stress and they can wake up in the morning and not have to worry where their next meal is coming from.”

“They will get meat and bread and fresh produce,” says Wendy Wootton, program operations manager. “We offer more than just canned food and non-perishable items.”

Cape Coral Caring Center also has a dedicated and loyal volunteer staff. They have so many that there is actually a waiting list.

“We currently have about 75 volunteers, and we get calls every day from people who are interested in helping out,” Julie says. “Our volunteers love being here. They see what we do, and they love what we do. They really care about this community.”

One of the most important times of the year for the Cape Coral Caring Center is around the holidays. Julie and Wendy estimate they provide the ingredients and fixings for at least 500 Thanksgiving dinners and 500 Christmas meals each year to families without the funds to buy everything themselves.

“Whatever you’d expect at your holiday dinner table is what we include in our holiday dinner baskets,” Wendy says. “They’ll get the meat, stuffing, corn, potatoes, green beans. We make sure everyone gets to have a good holiday meal.”

They also work with families to provide Christmas gifts for children who might otherwise not get a visit from Santa.

“The perception is that people live their life this way,” Julie says. “The reality is that anyone can fall on hard times. People get sick or lose their job, or any sort of unexpected things could happen. We are here to help anyone and everyone who needs assistance.”

In September, the organization partnered with several local businesses and individuals for a new event, the SOS: Sustainable Outreach Society—Goodness To-Go! They were able to collect more than 2,000 pounds of food and $33,000 in donations.

Cape Coral Caring Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information, visit CapeCoralCaringCenter.org or call 239.945.1927. For more information about the SOS: Sustainable Outreach Society-Goodness To-Go! event, visit SOSGoodnessToGo.com.

SIDEBARS:

By the numbers:

$60-$120 to feed a family for a week (depending on family size)

$20 vouchers for Kiwanis Club Thrift Store (depending on family size)

Thanksgiving dinner baskets: 500

Holiday gifts for children: 200 to 300 families

Christmas meal baskets: 500

Cape Coral Caring Center’s most-needed items:

  • Peanut butter

  • Jelly

  • Canned foods (including fruits, vegetables and beans)

  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Potatoes

  • Soups

  • Cereal

  • Fresh produce

  • Toiletries (including bar soap, toilet paper, hair products and toothpaste)