Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church provides hot meals from two distribution sites through its Transforming Lives for Christ (TLC) Feeding Ministry.

The Transforming Lives for Christ (TLC) Feeding Ministry at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Valrico is providing nourishing hot meals to those in need in the Brandon, Valrico and Dover areas of Eastern Hillsborough County.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has increased exponentially, and the church is excited to be able to provide this blessing to the people in the community.

The ministry began before COVID-19, in January 2020, and is now the largest and fastest growing ministry in the church, serving 200-300 meals twice a month. The goal is to provide high-quality hot meals for those that are in need.

The meals are generally a protein (e.g., barbecue chicken quarter), a vegetable, carbohydrate, salad and bread. La Septima Cafe of Brandon generously donates rice for the meals on the last Saturday of the month.

TLC Ministry Co-Chair Amelie Barry organizes this important mission with Co-Chair Bill Cox, along with 35-50 volunteers. Barry has been particularly touched by the outpouring of gratitude from the people that this mission is helping.

“There have been times when I have handed a meal to someone and they have been so grateful it broke my heart to hear they hadn’t eaten since Tuesday and it was a Saturday,” said Barry. “People often send feedback via Facebook Messenger about how much they enjoyed the meal and how appreciative they are because they’ve run out of food and are waiting to pick up from a food pantry or for their SNAP benefits to come in. One mom was just grateful she didn’t have to cook for her five kids that day!”

Donna Herzog is the communications contact for TLC and also leads the fundraising efforts at Holy Innocents’. She is amazed at all the help being given by the community.

“We have three major fundraisers that solely support the TLC ministry: TopGolf Charity event scheduled Saturday, September 26, the 13th annual Whistle Stop Arts & Crafts Show on Saturday, November 7 and more recently the Pop-Up Stock-Up event with Sysco frozen foods and Love INC. that was held Saturday, June 20 and again Saturday, September 19.”

The TLC ministry is always looking for volunteers who rotate services, either cooking, shopping, packing, serving, setting up or cleaning up.

“Each distribution requires approximately 20 volunteers, so we are always looking for more, especially as the ministry expands,” says Herzog. “Our hope is to soon be able to set up tables once again and mingle with the people. Sharing time with them, listening and letting them know they are loved by God is the real purpose of our ministry.”

The TLC food ministry distributes meals at two locations. The first is at San Jose Mission on 3214 San Jose Mission Dr. in Dover every second Saturday of the month. Meals are also distributed the last Saturday of each month at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church on 604 N. Valrico Rd. in Valrico. Both distributions are from 12 Noon to 2 p.m., rain or shine.

Volunteers are needed to cook, pack, transport and distribute meals while practicing social distancing and mandated safety measures. If interested, please email Amelie Barry at amelie.k.barry@gmail.com or Bill Cox at bcox1953@gmail.com.

For more information, visit www.hiepiscopal.org or call 689-3130.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.