Annual Picnic Celebrates the Beauty of Hillsborough Foster and Adoptive Families

Several hundred foster and adoptive families will come together to enjoy a day of festivities on Sunday, March 4 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm during a special appreciation event. Eckerd Connects will partner with Lupton’s Farms to host its 28th Annual Foster Family Picnic in Plant City, Florida.

Ralph J. Lupton and his wife Nancy have been running the ranch for nearly forty years. As an adopted child himself, Mr. Lupton understands the importance of honoring these families and is eager to partner with Eckerd Connects, the largest child and family services agency in the state.

“We must let these parents know that their love and selflessness is appreciated, and the kids need to know they are special and they matter,” says Mr. Lupton. “This annual picnic is our way of saying thank you to people who are volunteering their time and energy to care for children who need it most. We admire the job they wake up to do every day, and this event is our way of saying ‘We see you and appreciate you’.”

In years past, between 500 to 800 people have attended large outdoor event. Children typically explore the beautiful 200-acre Boggy Bottom Event Ranch while parents take the opportunity to meet with other moms and dads, building an extended network of camaraderie and support.

Some of the day’s festivities will include writing letters to veterans and first responders, pie-eating contests, arts and crafts, giveaways, bounce houses, and the ultimate treat—barbeque provided by Lupton’s Catering.

“Our foster parents are a such valued partners in the system of care,” says Tianay Lewis, Interim Director of Licensing. “They leave lifelong impressions on the children they care for, and we could not operate without them. The purpose of this picnic is to thank them for everything they do.”

If you are a foster parent living in Hillsborough who would like to attend the event, please contact Tianay Lewis via email at

The unique programs at Eckerd Connects enable at-risk children to remain safely in their homes or find a place with foster parents. In Hillsborough County alone, there are 480 licensed foster homes, but the increasing number of children entering the system creates a demand for more volunteers If you would like to learn more about how you can become a foster or adoptive parent, visit