SPRINGFIELD, Fla. — If you don’t believe in superheroes, you’ve probably never met Toni Gainer.
She can’t fly and she doesn’t have super strength, but she’s rescued just as many as the heroes on TV, through a food bank she runs inside two trailers outside of her church.
“Whatever they send us, we make sure they get a lot of it,” said Gainer. “Sometimes up to 500 families a month, maybe more, we feed.”
It started as a food drive every other month after Hurricane Michael, with food being provided by the Feeding the Gulf Coast organization. Hundreds of cars lined the streets for these drives; the need became large enough to run a food bank three days a week.
“It has helped a lot,” said Leila Teer, a Bay County resident who has benefitted from the food bank. “They give so much here, it just blows me away. She’s just been a blessing to my family and the community.”
Her church pastor had similar things to say.
“Most people know that she’s the type of person that not only will she give what’s in the trailer but she’ll give the shirt off your back,” said Rawlis Leslie, Pastor of 2nd Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.
If you were to ask Gainer, however, the real heroes are everyone else; all the volunteers working with her to make sure there’s food on the table.
“She was like going through her – ‘oh no! Y’all don’t have this, y’all don’t have that,’” said Teer. “‘Get them grapes! Get them two bags of grapes!’”
Gainer said she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“She told me the other day she met the Energizer Bunny,” said Leslie.
When they said not all heroes wear capes, they might have been talking about Gainer.
Sometimes all you need is two trailers, a little faith and a whole lot of love. Pastor Leslie said it best. “Love is what love does,” he said. “And she shows that love each and every day,” he said.
The food bank is located at 2nd Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and runs every week Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.