“My family and I have been a part of Feed the Bay since the very first year when it was one church and one man’s idea,” said Julia Pickens, a store coordinator volunteer.

This year’s Feed the Bay will be held on Sunday, April 15 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at 17 participating Publix Super Markets throughout Hillsborough County. The one-day event collects thousands of pounds of food to replenish the pantries of local food banks and community agencies.

Launched by Bay Life Church in 2006, Feed the Bay leverages more than 30 churches in the Tampa area. The community outreach is an illustration of the body of Christ coming together to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Pickens continued, “We encourage our friends and family to stop by so they can be witnesses to the power of God’s people in action.”

Publix Super Market, a longstanding partner in the effort, offers shoppers the convenience of a grocery list with suggested food items. Moreover, after shopping, volunteers are onsite to collect and load the food immediately onto the semi-trailers.

“Each year we look forward to serving as store coordinators,” said Pickens. “My husband Dwight and I felt that involving our boys, then 10 and 12, would be a great family activity and a way of setting an example of how we should serve others.”

While store volunteers are essential to the Feed the Bay mission, other volunteer opportunities are available. At 2:30 p.m., the semi-trailers depart from the participating Publix Super Markets and head to one of the 14 participating food banks or agencies. Volunteers are needed to unload and sort the food at these local agencies.

Volunteers must be at least 14 years old, but children are welcome to participate alongside their parents. To volunteer, visit www.feedthebay.org. Also, the website provides a list of participating Publix Super Markets, churches and agencies.

“We love when volunteers bring their children to the event,” Pickens said. “There is a job for everyone and little hands serving the Lord turn into big hands.”

If you are unable to participate, gift cards from any supermarket may be dropped off at the Bay Life Church office between now and April 15.

For questions, contact Melanie Langston from Bay Life Church at mlangston@baylife.org.