CLEARWATER, Fla (WFLA) – While several of us have been running to the store to grab some last-minute ingredients to make Christmas dinner, some families are struggling to put food on their tables.
Hope Villages of America, previously named RCS Pinellas, is a non-profit organization that opens its doors to provide food to Tampa Bay families in need.
“The reality is that we serve about 70,000 people annual just through our food banks and food pantries but we saw about a 300% increase since the pandemic of new guests coming to us,” Hope Villages of America CEO and President Kirk Ray Smith said.
Currently, the organization has more than 80 food pantry locations around Tampa Bay where families and individuals can visit to receive groceries.
The food items are free of charge and no referral is needed, all you have to do is head to the location nearest to you and sign up.
Those in need can come by a Hope Villages of America location once a month to receive three to four days worth of food per person.
“It’s awesome to see the smile on their face during the holidays when they get something that they don’t have a desperately need,” Hope Villages of America Volunteer Pete Steimel said.
These resources are made possible from donations and volunteers that come from the local community.
“I feel like if you’ve had any success in life or any good fortune, you have the obligation and a responsibility to help others feel the same. Just giving back, I think should be natural for all of us to do,” Smith said.
The organization is also looking for individuals to volunteer, you can also head to their website to find out how you can help.
“God only puts us on this planet for a short time so why not glorify and honor him by serving?” Steimel said.