Feed The BayBy Donna M. Rogers
Based on the motto, “Together we can do more,” 14 churches in the Brandon area and two grocery store chains will join forces to combat hunger and poverty in a practical way. Due to the overwhelming basic needs of our community, the food pantries of charities in the Bay area cannot keep up with the demand to feed the needy. The goal is to collect 150,000 pounds of food to stock the shelves of 12 local charities. “Our economy is affecting families from all walks of life, and it is our desire to reach out to these people and share the love of Christ in a very practical way,” says Pastor George Thomasson from Bell Shoals Baptist Church. Church members will be given a preprinted grocery list at their morning worship service on Sunday, November 23. The church leadership will then encourage its congregation to leave church and go shopping at a participating Sweetbay or Publix Supermarket between the hours of 8 a.m.-2 p.m. for the benefit of those in need in our community. Feed the Bay participating supermarkets will be ready as store employees will have shelves stocked with grocery items requested by the charities, and trucks will be open and ready to receive these items to be delivered to the various charities. Sweetbay Supermarkets will provide trucks at each of their locations for delivery of the food. In addition, they have committed to giving a five percent donation of store sales from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on November 23 to the participating charities. Recipients of the collection include ECHO (Emergency Care Help Organization), Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa, Day Star Faith Center, America’s Second Harvest of Tampa Bay, Women’s Resource Center, Everyday Blessings, Life Center of Brandon (formerly Brandon Care Center), Bread of Life, Good Samaritan Mission, Inc., Manna on Wheels Ministries, Beth-El Farm Worker Ministry and Cynthia Pinckney Ministries. Stacey Efaw, executive director of ECHO, is concerned about the state of our community. She says, “One thing that scares me most is that over the past month, over 70 percent of our clients are new clients, meaning they have not had to ask for help before. We are seeing people from all industries that have lost their jobs and need assistance -licensed electricians, plumbers, realtors, bankers, landscapers, employees of the car industry, etc.” Efaw also shares, “I had a man crying at the front desk of ECHO; he is a licensed tradesman, has worked all his life and has never had to ask for help. Last month, he sold all of his tools so he could pay his bills. He was so humbled and so grateful to receive the food that we gave him.” Efaw also expressed her thanks, “Without Feed the Bay, we may not make it through the holidays. I cannot express my gratitude enough to this community of for putting this opportunity to serve together. You are going to help thousands of people!” The community is encouraged to participate in this effort to “Feed the Bay” by visiting http://feedthebay.org. Anyone can help. You can purchase gift cards from any grocery store and drop them off at a participating local church for distribution, which include: Bay Life Church, Bay Life Riverview, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Bell Shoals Baptist Church-East Bay, Big Bend United Methodist Church, Celebration Church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Brandon, First United Methodist Church of Brandon, First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, FishHawk Fellowship, Grace Community United Methodist Church, St. Andrews United Methodist Church and The Crossing Church. For more information about this project or how to volunteer, please visit http://FeedtheBay.org, call Liz Brewer at 299-6745 or call Cindy Perkins at 661-3696, ext. 246.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!