The sound of masking tape being ripped, plastic bags being torn and cardboard boxes being filled became background noise for the laughter and good natured chatter as members of The Tocqueville and Young Philanthropists Societies of United Way of Central Alabama spent their day lending a hand at the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.

Frank Sottosanti, CMO of Protective Life
Frank Sottosanti, CMO of Protective Life

“I think we all in our hearts want to try to contribute and do something good to help people, so why not smile and be in a good mood and take the opportunity to get to know some of these good people,” said Frank Sottosanti of Protective Life Corporation.

It wasn’t a celebratory occasion, but members of the two societies found the service project to be an opportunity to reflect and be grateful. “Just the realization that there’s so much need in our area is humbling,” said Gail Bayer, Tocqueville Society member since 2001. The two societies joined forces to support the Food Bank for its Mobile Pantry and Weekenders Backpack Program.

“It’s really hard to think that this program is so needed,” said Ann McEwen of Regions Bank and 2016 Young Philanthropist Society Co-Chairperson. “But it’s gratifying and inspiring that it was created in the first place so we can make a real difference in these kids’ lives. The collaborative effort was a first for the two societies, but it was one that was equally beneficial for all parties.

“It’s important to show the younger generation it’s not all about work,” said Bayer. “You have to give back.”The two societies filled 212 Mobile Pantry boxes, which translates to 5, 396 lbs of food and 4, 946 meals. They also filled 406 backpacks.

United Way’s Tocqueville Society is a powerful network of philanthropists who are passionate about improving lives in Central Alabama. The Young Philanthropists raise awareness for community needs among the next generation of community leaders.

United Way of Central Alabama serves Jefferson, Shelby, Walker, Blount and St. Clair counties by providing solutions for the most important needs in the community. Through our partner agencies and community initiatives, we improve lives and community conditions by building and mobilizing resources. To learn more about United Way’s impact in your community visit