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Leesburg philanthropist to be honored with statewide award

RELEASE DATE: July 20, 2007

LEESBURG —Executive Director and founder of the Leesburg Food Bank, Harriette Mann, will be awarded the "Super Senior Award" at the Florida Council on Aging (FCOA) 2007 annual conference in Miami on Aug. 14.

Harriette Mann
HARRIETTE MANN
Founded in 1955, the FCOA is the only statewide association in Florida that represents aging issues. The "Super Senior Award" is one of seven awards the Council bestows to outstanding service providers and volunteers at the annual conference's Quality Senior Living Luncheon and Awards Ceremony. The senior award is given to an individual that is older than 70 years of age and whose volunteer services on behalf of the elderly deserve statewide recognition.

In Lake County, Mann needs little introduction. Since 1988, she has been providing free food to those in need. The non-denominational, all-volunteer Leesburg Food Bank is a beacon of hope for many during times of despair.

"The things she has been able to accomplish are truly amazing," said Allison Thall, Director of Lake County's Elder Affairs Program. Thall and the County's citizen-advisory committee, Elder Affairs Coordinating Council, nominated Mann for the statewide honor.

"Single handedly she has been able to recruit an army of 150 volunteers to help manage the food bank," Thall said. "What she has also been successful at is establishing relationships with local businesses, churches and governmental agencies to provide food for this worthy cause."

Working at Leesburg's hospital in the 1980s, Mann said she quickly noticed the need for a local food bank. With determination and hard work, Mann opened the first food bank in Lake County. Her operation was also the first locally to provide fresh fruit, vegetables and meat in addition to dry and canned goods.

"I started out using my own car to pick up bread," she said. "Looking back, it's been quite a time we've had here. My heart is really fulfilled. When I leave here each day, I know I helped someone."

Currently at its second location, 1305 Sunshine Ave. in Leesburg, the food bank assisted 380,000 families last year. To donate to or volunteer at to the Leesburg Food Bank, call (352) 326-5463 for details. 

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