CLEARWATER, FL — The fourth Saturday of every October is National Make A Difference Day, when good works take center stage as volunteers nationwide and all over the globe set aside some time to help others.
With the coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented hardships in 2020, donating to, or helping at, food banks and food pantries can be even more important this year. Make A Difference Day — celebrated this year on Saturday, Oct. 24 — is an ideal time to volunteer at one of them.
Just one hour of volunteer work with Feeding Tampa Bay generates exponential meals to feed neighbors in need.
“We’ve now moved from a crisis to a new normal,” said Thomas Mantz, president and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay. “What we’d all thought to be a temporary situation has now materially changed the way we live. COVID has dominated the world of social services for longer than any of us would have imagined – and will continue to do so.
“Throughout the last six months, one thing is certain – our community stepped up for our neighbors in need more than ever before,” Mantz said. “Our volunteers jumped in to provide heroic service. Our agency partners battled hunger, putting millions of meals back into our community. Our donors increased their generosity exponentially. Our staff team worked tirelessly to innovate creative solutions to meet the need head-on. We completely changed our model to Mega Pantry Drive-Thru grocery distributions and began delivering meals directly to those who need it most. Trinity Cafe pivoted their efforts to provide prepared to-go style meals. And our warehouse team feverishly processed millions of pounds of food weekly.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Mantz said Feeding Tampa Bay doubled its output to nearly two million meals distributed weekly for an anticipated total of 85 million meals served this year. The nonprofit also increased its monthly mobile pantries to 150, four times the amount before the pandemic and increased to-go-style meals from 500 to 40,000.
Metropolitan Ministries helps homeless and at-risk children and families, whether they need to get off the streets at night or they’re seeking education so they can get a job that will support their family.
These services are vital for the 32,000 homeless men, women and children in Tampa Bay.
“The scope of need is unprecedented,” said Tim Marks, Metropolitan Ministries’ president and CEO. “We’ve been so fortunate to have the communities’ support, and I have faith that we’ll rally together once again to meet this challenge.”
Here Are Some Ways To Make A Difference
Feeding Tampa Bay needs volunteers are needed to sort nonperishable goods in the warehouse at 4702 Transport Drive, Building 6, Tampa, or serve breakfast Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Trinity Cafe, 2202 E. Busch Blvd. and 2801 N. Nebraska Ave. in Tampa.
You can help Metropolitan Ministries by going through your closets and gathering clothes and shoes you no longer need to be dropped off at the Metropolitan Ministries Thrift Store,