TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Diane Toto as the ninth Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Toto, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the We Care Food Pantry.
In 2003, Diane Toto experienced what she calls a vision from God to solve the horrendous problem of hunger and unmet human need in her local community. Toto's journey began with picking up day-old bread from local supermarkets and delivering it to low-income neighborhoods. In 2006, the We Care Food Pantry was born with Toto serving as President.
When the national recession hit in 2007, Toto saw a four-county area of Hernando, Pasco, Citrus, and Marion that needed a full-sized food distribution center complete with freezers, coolers, sorting rooms, and loading docks. A four-year, all volunteer, $1.2 million Capital Campaign was initiated and in 2012 Toto opened the doors to a brand new 15,000 square foot food bank serving the four counties. Toto has worked 20 hour days for over ten years organizing an army of supporters. Today, the Citrus County Food Bank serves as the only all-volunteer food bank of this scale, donating 3 million pounds of food annually.
Toto becomes the 238th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $12.05 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.