Ministries of Mercy - Food & Clothing at 6363 9th Avenue North, Saint Petersburg, FL 33710 US - Pantry and Thrift Shop Feed and Clothe Families in Need

Pantry and Thrift Shop Feed and Clothe Families in Need

Volunteers from St. Joseph Catholic Church meet each week to stock and organize the food in the church’s food pantry and to pack boxes of food which are given out to families in need.

Published: August 6, 2010

In 2006, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg began the Ministries of Mercy initiative to support and foster parish ministries that serve the poor, suffering, and marginalized. The initiative focuses on five areas where the need is the greatest: food & clothing, shelter, life, visitation, and health. With the help of volunteers, the Ministries of Mercy are currently serving in various parishes and the following story highlights the food and clothing ministries of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Joan Hornaman and Ella Cochrane, parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church, are meeting in the parish hall to come up with a list of supplies needed to replenish the food pantry. As they work, they realize how grateful they are that their parish has a food and clothing ministry to assist people going through hard times. “Since I started volunteering, I have seen the need increase,” Joan says. “And before I started helping, I was unaware of how people in our own church were being affected.” “I too was surprised to see people I knew loose their jobs and turn to the pantry,” Ella adds.

Each week, individuals like Joan and Ella volunteer their time to stock shelves and assemble boxes with donated canned goods and dry food brought to the church on the third Sunday of each month. The boxes they assemble are filled with essentials like peanut butter, pasta, and cereal and shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. “We make sure to include toiletries because we know these are items people need but cannot purchase with food stamps,” Joan states. The church estimates that 364 families have received helped since July of 2009 during which an additional 31 Thanksgiving baskets, 15 Easter baskets, and 53 Christmas baskets were given out. “The pantry receives much support from the parishioners,” Joan says. “We place notices in the bulletin and make announcements after Mass; they really respond to our needs.”

In addition to the pantry, the church has a thrift shop filled with donated gently used clothes and household items. 22 individuals volunteer their time each week to sort, price, and label the items and to maintain the shop which was especially designed to make people feel like they are shopping in a regular store. The shop is painted in warm colors, has hand-made curtains and Christmas trees up year-round, and is lined with donated bookshelves and display cases which are filled with knickknacks like angles, roosters, and glass figurines. “I am grateful to the volunteers because this shop is a place where people can maintain their dignity,” Trish Dunham, a church staff member, says.

“Since July of 2009, we have spent $13,254 to help the needy in our community with their rent, utilities, prescription drugs, and to help replenish the food pantry,” Theresa H. Miner, the business administrator for the parish, says. “Over 3 years, the thrift shop has raised over $60,000 most of which has been put back into the local community to help people in need.”

To read about other parish food and clothing ministries, the Ministries of Mercy, and to find a ministry near you in need of donations and volunteers, click here. To donate or volunteer at St. Joseph Catholic Church, contact Theresa H. Miner at 813-782-2813.

Parishioners from St. Joseph Catholic Church volunteer their time to sort, price, and label gently used donated clothes and household items in the church’s thrift shop.


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