AVON PARK – More than 100 volunteers from 10 area Publix supermarkets gathered at Ridge Area Arc on Tuesday, April 2 to participate in the 2019 Publix Serves Day. Representatives from district 25 arrived bright and early with tools including pressure washers, shovels and rakes. They also came with positive attitudes and a willingness to work. 

Publix Serves Day is a company-wide commitment that brings Publix’s service mission to life  — to help communities grow and thrive. Each year, the company partners with over 150 nonprofit organizations, allowing Publix associates plenty of opportunities to volunteer.

District 25 was given $999 to use for a charity focusing in the areas of hunger, homelessness, youth and education. They chose Ridge Area Arc as their project in the area of adult education, specifically the Adult Day Training program (ADT). Store managers coordinated and organized their teams to complete jobs that were pre-determined by Ridge Area Arc’s CEO, Kathleen Border. 

“Anyone in a non-profit understands that our money is always focused toward the people we serve and that leave very few discretionary dollars,” said Border. “What an incredible gift to be given hours of volunteer work by hundreds of Publix employees. They accomplished things for us that would have taken months and months to tackle. We are forever grateful.”

Volunteers also worked on projects for Heartland Horses Equine Activities and Learning, Inc. (HHEAL) which provides free equine assisted riding and interaction for children and adults with mental, physical, developmental, emotional, and behavioral challenges. HHEAL leases their land from Arc and is considered a partner based on their similar missions to serve people with disabilities.  

“The electric fence project was on our bucket list for some time but was put on the back burner due to lack of resources,” said Claire Langway, HHEAL Director. “The electric fence is one additional level of safety and security for our horses. These caring individuals came with such a level of professionalism and skill that we were just blown away.”

District Manager Edd Dean kicked off the 5th annual Publix Serves Day with an enthusiastic introduction and explained the spirit behind the project. “It is our mission to be responsible citizens in our community, this is just one way we serve our community,” he said. 

Lakeland Division Vice-President, Sam Pero was on hand at the event. Pero thanked staff volunteers and made note that over 8,000 Publix employees in seven states are participating in the company-wide effort.

Some of the tasks completed by the teams of volunteers include: Pressure washing all of the walkways, the Eckstadt House and the front of the ADT building; Removing Spanish moss from surrounding trees, trimming all of the overgrown vegetation and landscaping; Scraping and overall cleaning of the floor inside ADT which will soon be used for a new purpose; Cleaning out storage sheds at the Arc and Heartland Horses; On the Heartland Horses campus, an electrified wire was installed on the existing fence for safety and security and the storage trailer was cleaned and repainted. 

As result of 500+ man-power hours, both campuses look clean and refreshed and are ready for a new season of serving their consumers.

About Ridge Area Arc

Ridge Area Arc is a private, not for profit 501(c)3 organization, which was founded in 1957 by Franklyn and Mary Ellen Ward. Ridge Area Arc provides an array of services and support for nearly 200 families and individuals and is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our vision is that every individual and family affected by intellectual disability in our service area has access to the information, advocacy, and skills they need to participate as active citizens of our democracy and active members of their community. We work to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the supports they need to live an ordinary American life. The campus is located at 4352 Independence Street in Avon Park.

Heartland Horses Equine Activities & Learning (HHEAL)

Provides free equine assisted riding and interaction to significantly improve the lives of children and adults with mental, physical, developmental, emotional, and  HHEAL believes that experiencing and riding horses can significantly improve the lives of individuals with physical, emotional, or developmental challenges behavioral challenges. The ranch is located at 4305 Independence Street in Avon Park. For more information call Call (863) 452-0006.