Walking into Food For Thought Outreach’s Santa Rosa Beach Pantry on Aug. 20, guests were greeted with food, fun, games and more. However, this wasn’t any run-of-the-mill party. Guests came bearing different types of gifts — businesses, schools, and churches donated truckloads of food items, guests came with monetary and food donations, and others pledged their time to volunteer throughout the upcoming 2015-16 school year.

“We were just overwhelmed with the turnout. This was only the second year for this event, but our Food Drive and Backpack Sponsors really took the reigns and committed to making this even better than last,” says Tiffanie Shelton, founder and executive director of Food For Thought Outreach.

The Ohana Institute took home the top honors winning the challenge by a landslide with 11,300 items, Sandestin Real Estate took second with 2,931 items, and Wells Fargo came in a close third with 2,372 items. It was a tight race with additional teams in close competition. Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Nathan Abbott Team (ResortQuest), Shoreline Church, Noah’s Ark Preschool, The Sonder Project supported by 360 Blue, Emerald Coast Title Services, A Superior Air Conditioning supported by Beachy Beach 30A, The Preschool at Point Washington, Compass Rose Academy, Setco Services - Florida Title Company, and the many individuals who stopped by with donations including members of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and St. Joe Club & Resorts all contributed to the incredible success collecting over 33,000 food items through the evening.

Backpack sponsors committed to donating at least $500 toward Food For Thought Outreach’s mission and the event collected over $9,400 this year. Backpack Sponsors 2015 include The Rotary Club of Destin, Emerald Coast Title Services, Trattoria Borago, 30AFoodAndWine.com, Linda Miller of Rosemary Beach Realty, Rushing Law Firm, Setco Services, The Pearl, Hancock Bank, Grayton Beach Gypsea, personal donations from Winky Dowdle, and The Walter Family, as well as all levels of donations collected at the door from guests.

Through the combined efforts and generosity of these Food Drive and Backpack Sponsors and the local community, Food For Thought Outreach will be able to cover the first several weeks of service this year to all 1,200 children enrolled in the program through the food item and monetary donations.

The family-friendly event was a night enjoyed by all. Pizza By the Sea provided some of their best selling slices, while Pop Stop provided cool treats for kids and adults alike, and Chanticleer Bakery and Eatery donated their cookies. Rent Gear Here brought outdoor games for the kids and face-painters from Abrakadoodle brought all kinds of characters to life, like fire-breathing dragons, puppies, and even the Food For Thought Outreach logo on several of the kids faces in attendance.

“This year’s event was a wonderful improvement from our first year. We had more involvement from our growing number of Sponsors, we had an amazing turnout from the community, and we hope this spurs people to continue to stay involved with Food For Thought Outreach. These are the moments we are so appreciative for the outpouring of time, effort, and passion from our friends and neighbors who do what they can to help in the fight against child hunger and food insecurity in this area,” says Nelson.