Holiday of Hope provides food and holiday cheer to thousand of families in the greater Brandon area.

By: Dale Bliss

With intense times and a struggling economy, hope is one of our most valued treasures. That is what “Holiday of Hope” is all about.
The Second Annual Holiday of Hope, where the Brandon area and surrounding communities join together to help those stricken by the economic downturn and stressed in these financially burdensome times to have a blessed and memorable Thanksgiving and Christmas.  
Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Bay Life Church, First Baptist Church of Brandon and other area  churches along with ECHO, Women’s Resource Center, I Am Hope Café and additional area organizations are discussing the needs of the community and how to give bright and cheerful hope to the families. In 2010, approximately 1,500 families were helped through this program. This year they are anticipating about 2,500 families.
There will be a “Holiday of Hope” kickoff Thursday, October 13 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at  First Baptist Church of Brandon located at 216 N. Parsons  Ave. in Brandon. The public is invited to the tent blessing.
The Holiday of Hope event begins under the Brandon Holiday tent the first week of November. Donations of non-perishable food and new toys will be accepted starting in November, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m.- noon.  
The Executive Director of ECHO, Stacey Efaw, said, “The Brandon Holiday tent will allow us to serve a larger population to those in need. It will also provide a wonderful way for individuals and families to help by volunteering their time or donating needed items.”
“Those that are in need usually need help year round. However, the holidays are special. We celebrate the holidays festively, so when we give to those in need, they can celebrate with us in giving thanks with dignity,” said Vince Ferraro of I Am Hope Café.
 Pre-registration for families needing assistance will begin on Wednesday, October 12 through Friday, November 18 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and beginning again on Monday, November 28 through Friday December 16 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Brandon.
Families registering must bring photo ID and proof of residency. A birth certificate, social security card, AWARD letter (WIC) or a letter from a church. The large white tent will be located at the corner of N. Parsons and W. Sadie St. An appointment time for distribution will be given to registered families. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner will be served at the Boys and Girls Club.
If you are interested in finding out more about “Holiday of Hope, visit or by calling Debbie Weismann at 689-4229 or

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