OLDSMAR — Project Pop Drop, a community-driven initiative designed to provide food, clothing and other essentials to those in need, was started in 2011 by the owners of Platinum International Products and Services, a California-based company that sells toner and ink cartridges for copy machines to businesses.
In 2015, Sharon Edwards, who runs the company’s Oldsmar branch, brought Project Pop (Partners of Provision) Drop to the area, and she has been working in conjunction with local officials and organizations to deliver thousands of dollars’ worth of essential goods every month ever since.
“Every month, Platinum International takes a percentage of every cartridge sold and donates to homeless shelters and nonprofit organizations,” Edwards explained, noting they have roughly 30 donation boxes stationed at businesses that contribute 90,000 meals to homeless shelters throughout the greater Tampa Bay area monthly. “So, it’s really a neat, community-based event.”
For the past five years, Edwards has organized an annual drive in June in support of Oldsmar Cares, and she noted this year’s haul included food, cash, clothing, gift cards and hundreds of rolls of 2020’s most sought-after resource, toilet paper.
“My company bought $2,000 worth of food for Oldsmar Cares this month, Wal-Mart gifted a $2,100 grant, we collected $1,000 in cash and also $725 in Wal-Mart gift cards,” she said. “We also donated thousands of pounds of food as well as gently used clothing, and also hundreds of new pairs of socks and underwear and more than 500 rolls of toilet paper. So, needless to say, this was a very successful Drop.”
Edwards said a big reason Project Pop Drop has been a success is the participation from various elements of the community, as city of Oldsmar and Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce officials along with local businesses, organizations and residents all help to give back. She noted local audio-visual company Beamworks has generously allowed them to use their St. Petersburg Drive facility to store the donations as well as help deliver the goods in their box trucks.
“When I first started doing this, I showed up at Oldsmar Cares with a box of food in my trunk,” she recalled. “This year, we showed up with two box trucks full of food and supplies. It’s amazing what happens when you do God’s work. I get very emotional about it.”
The generosity of the latest Drop was not lost on the recipients.
“Thank you to Sharon Edwards and all the Pop Drop angels for selecting Oldsmar Cares as the June Project Pop Drop recipients for the 5th year in a row,” the nonprofit posted on its Facebook page June 29.
“It was fantastic! Oldsmar Cares is truly blessed to be supported by this wonderful community.”
While this year’s Drop was one of the largest yet, the energetic Edwards isn’t about to rest on her laurels.
“We do this every month, so as soon as one Drop is finished, I get busy working on the next one!” she said, adding, “It’s great for people buying toner and ink because they’re saving time and money and they’re not just feeding toner to their printers, they’re feeding thousands of homeless people as well. I see it as a true win-win situation for everybody.”
For more information about the initiative, visit the Project Pop Drop Oldsmar Facebook page or contact Sharon Edwards at 727-475-1393.