5th Sundays Help Stock the Shelves

The Pensacola area has several food assistance programs, some through government programs, some at churches and others through non-profit organizations like Ministry Village at Olive (MVO). Tender Hearts Caring Hands (THCH) is the care and kindness program of MVO that focuses on serving individuals and families in Escambia and Santa Rosa County that have significant need. Tender Hearts offers a food pantry for families and homeless neighbors in need and financial assistance to those who qualify. MVO also works in partnership with Manna Food Pantry which provides groceries to the Tender Hearts Caring Hands clients who attend the THCH Budget Class, held each Wednesday evening in the Health and Hope Clinic building on the Ministry Village campus.

Food donations from a recent 5th Sunday Food Drive waiting to be organized and shelved.

Kathleen Schuster, Program Manager of Tender Hearts Caring Hands, said that Tender Hearts provided assistance to more than 2,000 families in 2018. That’s an average of 40 families each week. Donations of money and goods from the community provide the food that is distributed through the Tender Hearts Food Pantry. Community partners like Publix at Milestone on 9 Mile Road donate bakery items each week, and some faithful supporters keep the pantry stocked with a variety of items. “We have one man who once asked us what item we could use, and we told him saltine crackers,” says Kathie. “Every month, he faithfully brings us dozens of boxes of crackers so we can have some to give out.” When the food pantry stock runs low, Ministry Village at Olive must use operations funds to supplement and purchase items from area grocery stores.

Tender Hearts provided assistance to more than 2,000 families in 2018.

Volunteers unload food pantry donations.

Looking for a way to help, Olive Baptist Church (where Ministry Village at Olive was founded more than 10 years ago) began a 5th Sunday Food Drive a few years ago. The idea was to create a reminder for Olive’s church members who wanted to contribute. “There are usually 4 months throughout the year that have 5 Sundays,” explains Kathie. “Church members can bring items with them to church on that 5th Sunday and leave their donations on one of the many tables located throughout the church foyer. Then some of our loyal Tender Hearts volunteers come in the following Monday, gather up all those donations, and deliver them to our office.”

Once the donations are delivered, the pantry is restocked and organized by Kathie, the ladies of the Charis House, and Tender Hearts volunteers. “We appreciate the support of all of the Olive Baptist Church members who faithfully shop and bring those items to church with them so they can be donated,” says Kathie. “Those donations make a huge difference to our Food Pantry and to the clients that we help every day.”

Some of our faithful 5th Sunday Food Drive Volunteers – David Hoyt, Tom Cacciatore, Gene Myatt, Randy Wright, Steve Nieson, Bernie Alidor and Huey Pearson.

👉Mark Your Calendars! The final 5th Sundays of 2019 are scheduled for September 29 and December 29.

❤️We have an immediate need for volunteers in the Tender Hearts Caring Hands ministry. Volunteers may serve by transporting donated food items from area businesses, organizing the food pantry, or answering phones and assessing callers for financial assistance opportunities. If you would like to be of service to others in our community through Tender Hearts Caring Hands, please call 850-475-1118 or click here.

🌽Donations of non-perishable food and travel-size hygiene items are accepted at the Ministry Village office at 1716 E. Olive Road, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 2 pm. Specific food items that are always in demand include canned beans, canned meats including tuna and spam, peanut butter, 1 pound bags of rice, grits and spaghetti noodles, canned vegetables and crackers.

🙏To learn more about Tender Hearts Caring Hands, part of Ministry Village at Olive, click here.

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