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Changing My View of the World!

Have you ever randomly met a person that changes the way you look at the world? I have, and I’d like to tell you about that person. It was second semester of my freshman year when COVID hit. Classes were online, clubs were cancelled, and boredom was definitely a problem. I read online about a neighbor who was making meals for the needy and he was asking for help. So my mom and I went to his house and we were greeted by an older man who had the warmest smile. I instantly felt like this man was a friend. He slowly walked us to his kitchen with help of a walker and we saw containers of bulk food, volunteers and about 400 Styrofoam containers. We got to work chopping, stirring, cleaning and finally got all the containers filled. I was exhausted. Then the next crew of volunteers came and picked up the containers to deliver them. As I was leaving this man said, “come back anytime, we could always use your help”. Wait, I was confused. He does this more than once?!

This man is Tony Mansolillo. He is a disabled veteran that loves to cook. During COVID he realized there were many people struggling because they were out of work, and he started to make nutritious meals for them. He soon realized that there were many people in Collier County struggling. He started providing nutritious meals for the elderly, handicapped, homeless, and those suffering from drug addiction or mental illness. Tony turned no one away regardless of what their story was. He always says, “God don’t make no junk”. What started as 5 people is now up to 400 meals delivered a day, 5 days a week Monday through Friday. He does this with the help of volunteers. Somedays he has 4 or 5 volunteers and some days he has none. He pays for the food through donations and when he has no donations he pays out of his own pocket. Regardless of the circumstances he feeds up to 400 people a day.

I am co-president of the Gulf Coast High School, Feed Thy Neighbor club along with Valerie Orozco and we help organize high school students to volunteer. I am also President of the Everglades chapter of Junior American Citizens which is a group of students that serves the community and helps our veterans. The mission of both groups is to help Tony help our neighbors in Collier County. I am hoping after reading this article some of you will also be inspired to help Tony with his most immediate need, which is a commercial kitchen. He currently makes all these meals out of his own kitchen which he has simply outgrown. His neighbors also have been very patient with the daily traffic of volunteers parking in their neighborhood.

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