Letters of hope: Tampa church writes thousands of letters to those isolated during coronavirus pandemic

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our community in various ways, including causing many people to feel lonely. 

So Next Level Church is grabbing a pen and paper and trying to offer comfort and support through their latest program, Letters of Hope.  

“People that go to Next Level are writing these letters to anyone that is requesting them, anyone that needs them or anyone we are coming across that we feel is being super isolated right now,” Next Level Pastor Walt Robbins said.

The church is sending hand-written letters to residents of nursing homes and those who are in other isolated environments. They’re also sending letters to first responders and essential workers.  

“There has been a huge response from community leaders asking for the letters immediately and we feel that this is a tangible way that anyone can make a difference safely,” Next Level Church Lead Pastor Joshua Gagnon said.

So far, the church has received nearly 6,000 requests for letters in a matter of days.  

Robbins tells 8 On Your Side that the church’s Lithia location is working on sending a letter to each firefighter in Hillsborough County. 

“It’s just going to be a letter in there that is encouraging each of the people that gets it. Let them know that we are praying for them, we are here for them, we support them in this season. Just something positive for them to come across in a time where this is a lot of negativity right now,” said Robbins. 

Volunteers at Next Level Church are currently accepting requests for more letters and looking for more volunteers to help write them. You can learn more or sign up on their website

“We’re here to support those in the community during this season. So if anybody needs help, we are here for them,” said Robbins. 

Robbins tells WFLA.com that in April, the church collectively responded to the coronavirus crisis by hosting a drive-through food donation. It produced over 7,000 pounds of food.  

“Every location partnered with whatever food bank was in their local community. We had a two-hour window where people could come in and drop off food. We then brought it to those food organizations and they gave it out,” said Robbins.  

Next Level’s Lithia location partnered with ECHO of Brandon and gave away 500 boxes of food to those in need. 

Next Level Church currently has 10 locations throughout the county and hopes to open a house of worship in Riverview in the fall. Next Level Church Lead Pastor Joshua Gagnon is also the author of a new book, “It’s Not Over: Leaving Behind Disappointment and Learning to Dream Again.”

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