TAMPA, 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. 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.
“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 in Tampa 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.”
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, 2101 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Or host a donation drive for Metropolitan Ministries, which is always in need of nonperishable food donations and hygiene products. Metropolitan Ministries can provide collection boxes and flyers for you to download.
Designed by Outback Steakhouse, Metropolitan Ministries prepares 3,000 meals daily for residents and 26 partner meal sites in Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. More than 100 families, including 300 children, eat at Metropolitan Ministries’ MiraclePlace dining room2002 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, every day.
You can volunteer in the kitchen Saturday between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. doing meal preparation, serving residents in the dining facility, stocking shelves, washing dishes, mopping or emptying trash.
Or click here to find partner meal sites that may need assistance on Saturday.
You can help in the Metropolitan Ministries food warehouse or at the Groceries on the Go truck sorting canned goods or in the clothing warehouse, 2002 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, sorting clothing donations Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Metropolitan Ministries has more than 100 families that stay at the nonprofit’s two campuses, Hope Hall and Uplift Hall.
You can help at those campuses Saturday between 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. by stocking supplies, keeping the common areas clean and providing temperature checks for those visiting.
Metropolitan Ministries’ trademark Holiday Tent is up at 2609 N. Rome Ave., Tampa, from October through December and takes up to 600 volunteers a day to operate efficiently. Volunteers may find themselves registering clients, sorting donations, stocking the market, assisting clients with their shopping, slinging frozen turkey, cleaning or leading a prayer time. Saturday hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Homemakers of Hope provides essential furnishings and household items to families struggling with poverty in Hillsborough County. Volunteers are always needed in a variety of roles including volunteers at the warehouse at 2900 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, furniture movers and volunteers to set up and decorate new homes.
Meals On Wheels of Tampa, 550 W. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, is in need of volunteers Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon to work in the kitchen, putting together food boxes to be delivered to homebound clients. Volunteers must wear closed-toe shoes and pants (no shorts) to work in the kitchen. Teens age 13-17 are required to attend with an adult and must have a copy of the minor consent form on file to register. This project relies on a full shift of volunteers to complete the assigned tasks. Volunteers must wear face masks and gloves and follow proper handwashing protocol. Volunteers are asked to park at the lot at the corner of Lee Place and Hillsborough Avenue. Click here to sign up.
Making a difference can take many forms, so participation isn’t limited in scope to feeding the hungry. Since its inception in 1992, Make A Difference Day has inspired hundreds of thousands to volunteer locally in countless capacities.
People can volunteer or donate to another charity, mentor someone, or even just say a kind word to someone struggling. Find a local charity to support.
Originally a project of USA Weekend magazine, organizations worldwide have formed their own local projects to carry on the torch.
Whatever good people do, they are urged to use the #MakeADifferenceDay tag on social media to inspire others to do the same.
Patch News Partner/Shutterstock
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that in 2020, more than 54 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch social good project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.
Author: ” — patch.com ”