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Churches unite in feeding efforts this holiday season

Freshly carved turkey and mom's mashed potatoes.

Spoonfuls of stuffing and cranberry sauce.

For many, the words Thanksgiving and feast go together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

But not everyone can afford to participate in the tradition.

In Hillsborough County, one in eight people struggle to put food on the table, not just during the holidays but every day. Approximately 17 percent of the county's population is considered hungry, according to Feeding America. This means their basic nutritional needs are not being met.

To help spread hope to needy families, churches throughout Tampa Bay have organized feeding efforts this holiday season.

In eastern Hillsborough County, Greater Brandon Gift of Hope, a partnership of local churches with the Emergency Care Help Organization, will provide 800 registered participants with Thanksgiving staples including turkeys, fruits and vegetables. A distribution will take place Nov. 22 and 23 at First Baptist Church of Brandon, where attendees will select items they need from a farmer's-market type setting.

"With Gift of Hope, local churches are crossing denominational lines and truly being the body of Christ working together to help people in the community," said Vicki Harrison, director of missions at First United Methodist Church of Brandon.

"It's a reminder that not everything is about us," said Dan Reid, lead pastor at Journey Church. "To give to others puts things into perspective. It's what Jesus taught."

Other Churches participating in Gift of Hope include Bay Life Church, First Baptist Church of Brandon, First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, Rivers of Life Church, Southside Baptist and True Sanctuary of Praise. All are in need of donations. Donations can be made at each church and at the Gift of Hope tent on the First Baptist of Brandon property at 216 N Parsons Ave.

To volunteer for Gift of Hope, visit or call Bay Life Church at (813) 661-3696.

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Idlewild Baptist Church in North Tampa will supply 1,000 meals to seasonal farm workers during Festival de Gracias, Thanksgiving morning in Wimauma. Volunteers will serve a fresh-cooked breakfast and distribute groceries to families. It costs $35 to sponsor a family, and vouchers can be purchased online.

To donate or volunteer, call (813) 264-8727.

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Several churches are collecting items to donate to Hillsborough County charities. Christ the King Catholic Church, Sacred Heart and St. Lawrence Catholic Church have partnered with St. Vincent de Paul of Tampa.

St. Andrews Episcopal Church will pack Turkeys for Metropolitan Ministries Nov. 23. Learn more at

Hyde Park United Methodist Church is accepting donations for the Good Samaritan Mission.

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Christ the King Catholic Church, 821 S Dale Mabry Highway, will host its Winter Festival from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Shop for holiday items from a variety of vendors. For information, call (813) 876-5841 or visit

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City Life Church, 8510 N Dale Mabry Highway, presents motivational youth speaker Reggie Dabbs at its 9 a.m. service Sunday. For information, call (813) 933-3991.

Sarah Whitman can be reached

Churches unite in feeding efforts this holiday season 11/13/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 14, 2013 5:11pm]
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