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It’s all in the numbers for Lynne Winker. As the Vice President & Marketing Officer for United Southern Bank she knows numbers always tell the story.

“With over 10,000 families served by Lake Cares Food Pantry and 733,000 pounds of food distributed per year, that says it all.”

And those numbers need financial investments to keep the agency sustainable. Joining a unique fundraising opportunity set her on a path she had navigated many times before.

“My husband and I are very philanthropic and involved in our community – additionally, part of my job at United Southern Bank is to coordinate the charitable donations budget and work with our other officers in sponsoring and supporting charitable and civic organizations all over Lake County,” says Lynne. “I loved the idea of a different fundraiser and the opportunity to meet new friends.”

Lynne is one of 12 women participating in the Diamond Endowment project, raising funds and awareness for Lake Cares Food Pantry. Not only did she personally invest in the purchase of “Bella Diamante” diamond necklace -- a beautiful piece appraised at $21,500, Lynne took on the charge of representing the Pantry with vim and vigor.

“Lake Cares is a great organization that is meeting not only physical but also emotional needs of our fellow Lake County citizens,” says Lynne. “Wearing the necklace has been a unique experience. I have worn it every day and posted on Facebook about it.  You do get second looks from people when they spot the necklace and I was surprised at the number of people who commented.”

Lynne wore the necklace in December, a time of reflection and giving on many levels. “Bella helped deliver Christmas bonuses to all United Southern Bank’s staff in one day. I was dressed as Santa along with our other members of senior management who were also dressed in holiday costumes. We caused quite the stir when we ate lunch in downtown Leesburg.”

At the end of her time with “Bella” Lynne was reminded of the generosity of the region: “The people of Lake County are so generous and selling tickets was pretty easy!”

The Diamond Endowment project and the county-wide travels of “Bella Diamante” will culminate March 30, 2019, at the Lake Cares 10-Year Anniversary Gala at Lake Receptions.