By Andria Barrios
“It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, you can always make a difference.” These truthful words come from a young girl who clearly walks the talk. “I am a student at Bevis Elementary. I am ten-years-old and play select soccer. But my ministry is my passion,” states Jessica Valdes, an industrious student who has sought to help the homeless of the community from an early age.
Since her encounter at the age of four with a single homeless man, Jessica has not stopped reaching out to the less fortunate of the community. Jessica collects and bags small-sized toiletry and food items called “manna bags” and hands them out to any homeless person she sees. “I also bag up hygiene kits that I deliver to many ministries in the area such as Mission Tampa, Mission Smiles Dental Truck, Cynthia Pinkney Ministries, Kay’s Ministry, Metropolitan Ministries and A Kid’s Place.”
With the assistance of her mom, dad, sister, and friends, Jessica has made a difference in the lives of homeless in the area through this mission which she conducts out of her garage in FishHawk. In the seven years since she’s started, this student has collected over 35,000 items for her cause. “I have many people and organizations all over Tampa that support me, like FishHawk Fellowship Church, Friends of FishHawk, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Mission Tampa, and even students from University of Tampa – just to name a few.”
Mission Tampa, which is a 501(c)3 charity organization, has just decided to link with Jessica’s outreach. Now called Jessica’s Homeless Helpers, a Ministry of Mission Tampa, Jessica’s outreach is now able to accept donations through Mission Tampa at www.missiontampa.org.
“Since I stopped to have a conversation with that man on a park bench in Sarasota seven years ago, I never forgot about it. I tried to think of something I could do as a child to make a difference in his life.” This young girl has not only helped one, but countless homeless throughout the area.
Visit Jessica’s Homeless Helpers http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessicas-Homeless-Helpers/266974532497, or email her at Jessicashomelesshelpers@hotmail.com. Donate to www.missiontampa.org.