Volunteers give monthly free groceries, services in Orlando

June 2024

ORLANDO, Fla. — Everything from free groceries to clothing and haircuts brought hundreds of people to the heart of Parramore Saturday. A Central Florida woman has turned giving back into a labor of love.

Serving 500 people is a big goal that takes a lot of collaborative work to reach.

“I wanted to do this, and I put it on social media, and everyone kind of like rallied around me, and they’re like, I want to help,” said Jennifer Hilaire, who is the founder and executive director of The Desire Foundation. 

Hilaire’s yearning to give back to people in need helped her start the foundation. 

It’s been boots on the ground since 2020. 

Volunteers in Parramore provide people with free groceries, hot meals, clothing, hygiene items and even haircuts.

They welcome everyone. 

“We have vendors for mental health, housing … literally everything,” Hilaire said. “I just need to know what your name is and what you would like to get today.”

Hilaire, who is originally from Haiti, has been doing the work since she was 16 years old, but she said there is power in numbers. 

“We all know what it feels like to have a haircut, so to have a haircut — can’t afford to have a haircut, you can just imagine what that feeling is like,” Angel Ortiz said who is the owner of Clean & Classy Barbershop in Orlando. 

“It’s just about supporting each other, showing the community that there is support not just our organization but many other organizations that are trying to do what we can,” co-chair of The Desire Foundation and owner of Foodie Catering. 

The support does not go unnoticed. 

“It’s very nice to people in the community, so everybody just enjoy themselves and bless themselves and God bless them,” said George Glegg, who lives in Orlando. 

The foundation hosts the community event every month and also has a food pantry on Saturdays.

“Everyone deserves to have a better life regardless of what they look like, how much money they make,” Hilaire said. “I really wanted to make sure that the people that I saw, the people that I cared for, had access to better opportunities to thrive.”

Some of the foundation’s community partners include Second Harvest Food Bank, 4Roots, WholeLife Church and the Hispanic Federation. 

The event will return to Parramore on June 22.

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