Cynthia Pinckney Reaches Out To Small Churches To Aid The Homeless And Needy Communities

Since 2004, Cynthia Pinckney Ministries has orchestrated and hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in an effort to feed, clothe and warm the lives of homeless and needy communities in the area. Since 2007, these annual dinners were held at the Boys & Girls Club in Brandon. This year, the ministry finds itself redirecting its efforts and focusing on widening the spectrum of outreach in the surrounding communities.
“After the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners last year, I was met with many diverse needs that could not be solved during Thanksgiving and Christmas day alone. We were feeding the masses, but many others were left in the cracks and this needed to be addressed,” explained Cynthia Pinckney, founder of the ministry.
Pinckney noticed that many of those most in need were missing out on the benefits of the outreach and even those who would benefit that day, were still left wanting the following weeks and months. She explained, “It was placed in my heart to get pastors from smaller churches to host outreach activities at their locations and in their neighborhoods. In bringing about this type of outreach, we can serve and help more people in the areas they live and dwell.”
 “There are many needs that go beyond receiving food and clothes and the neighboring pastors would be able to address some of these needs,” she explained. She hopes to eventually offer a database, where, if a need can’t be met by the local church, there is a referral system in place and the congregation can provide the connection, whether it is to another church or agency or an organization that offers the specific service.
In this way, a temporary fix to aid those in need can become a home base of help within all communities year-round. Pinckney’s role is as a liaison within the web of service. “I would support them by conducting workshops, giving resources of clothing, shoes, toiletries and food items, if they were in need of such items, and overseeing the outreach activities until they felt comfortable serving and hosting by themselves.”
Training for Pinckney is critical in establishing an awareness of what to expect and ways to respond. “Food,” she explained, is easy to serve but most just don’t know how to react.” In Pinckney’s workshops, she outlines ways to exhibit the heart of a servant. “Just smile. If you don’t know how to smile, look pleasant. If you want to say something say, ‘I’m glad you’re here.’”
She wants churches and volunteers involved to realize it is much more than just an outreach event it is, “service in a manner where participants feel loved and cared for,” she said. 
These upcoming holidays, Pinckney has lined up five churches that are, either willing to host a holiday outreach event or are working with Pinckney to understand the process of becoming involved. There is even the option, for those churches that don’t have a location on their own grounds, to administer outreach from within apartment communities, which are home to many in need.
“I think it’s awesome because your audience is right there. Go where the audience is. Go where the need is,” she expressed.
Pastor Patrick Woodfork, of Israel Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, located at 5033 Pine St. in Seffner, has been through the training and will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Not only will a hot meal be available but also clothes and the chance to get a haircut.
Legacy Church Family, located on 2702 Causeway Center Dr. in Tampa will be giving out Thanksgiving dinner baskets as well as bags of groceries on Sunday, November 21. The Boys & Girls club will provide the church with names of families in need of the service within the communities of Windermere Apartments in Riverview and Westchester Apartments in Brandon. During the Christmas holiday, the same will be offered with the addition of toys as gifts for the children.
Pinckney’s trained volunteers will be placed with the churches that decide to get involved. She is still looking for donations of turkeys and chickens, any alternative meat that can be given to families for holiday dinners. She is patient with the process of this new endeavor and looks forward to church families providing the outreach to those in need displaying the message with their service, “we will walk with you.”
“I want about 30 to 40 churches to say, ‘yes, we will do this,’” she expressed excitedly.
If there are volunteers and church families wanting to become involved, please contact Pinckney at 571-1556 or e-mail her at cp@cythniapinckneyministries.org.
For more information about the organization, visit the ministry’s Website at www.cynthiapinckneyministries.org.