Delivering HopePantry delivery serves vulnerable families during the pandemic

Meal and grocery delivery services became a staple for many families under Safer at Home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, already and newly vulnerable people were left with fewer options to provide basic needs like food for their families. Wage and job loss, changes to public transportation, and increased food insecurity as a result of the pandemic brought increasing uncertainty and, in some cases, hopelessness. Enter, The Salvation Army.

Sarah Rafiq, Social Services Program Coordinator for The Salvation Army in Bonita Springs, Florida, started a pantry delivery service of sorts to help make sure local families didn’t go hungry.

“Food insecurity is a year-round issue,” said Rafiq. “But it is heightened during the pandemic.” Rafiq was quick to recognize new challenges for people to access the pantry in its usual form at the local Salvation Army office. “The most vulnerable…do not have access to reliable transportation,“ she noted. “Even if someone walked to the [pantry] distribution, it can be challenging to carry the items back.”

Rafiq was determined to help when the community needed it most. She delivered that help – and hope – right to the doorsteps of struggling families who couldn’t travel to the outreach office for food.Hope

Some weeks, visiting 26 families on delivery day, Rafiq donned a mask and gloves to leave non-perishable food, hygiene supplies, diapers, and other needed items in driveways and at front doors in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida. Much of the response to this new initiative has been gratitude and relief, “I could not repay you for your kindness, but I pray that God will,” read one text message.

You can help meet the needs of local families when you make an online donation or drop off nonperishable food items, hygiene items, baby supplies, paper goods, or cleaning and sanitizing supplies at any local Salvation Army office.

Collecting food items among neighbors and using grocery delivery services to send items directly to your local Salvation Army office are great ways to help, stay safe, and practice social distancing.

Story by Eric Anderson, Ft. Myers Area Command

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

Salvation Army takes food truck to help isolated seniors

The Salvation Army took its canteen (mobile feeding unit) to serve vulnerable neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic at a downtown Fort Myers senior residence.

An emotional and spiritual care team was also on-site to offer hope and encouragement in a time of uncertainty and isolation for many.

“They are looking out for we the seniors so that we can get food to eat,” 86 year-old Eileen Williams explains. Williams, a resident of Royal Palm Towers, often helps her neighbors who are in wheelchairs or walkers.

Most of her fellow residents are homebound because of physical ailments and others are limited because of changes in public transportation. Even still, those who can go out often avoid public places such as grocery stores because of their higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, according to reports from health officials.

“You have to just take it easy and just pray this epidemic goes [away].” Williams says she will continue to help her neighbors because she is blessed with good health.

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Since the onset of the pandemic, The Salvation Army has continually evaluated its processes to bring assistance to those most in need with everyone’s health and safety of the utmost concern.

“We are going to get through this together,” explains Major Carlyle Gargis, Fort Myers Area Commander. Major Gargis was at Royal Palm Towers helping provide food and emotional counseling; praying with the residents and offering encouragement of God’s love.

Story by Eric Anderson, Ft. Myers Area Command

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

Julie Gray with The Salvation Army puts groceries in a van during a food distribution. [DEVON RAVINE/DAILY NEWS]

A young elementary school teacher stopped by her local Salvation Army food pantry and asked whether it was possible to have bags of food for some of her students’ families. She shared with us that she remembers, that as a little girl, it was always difficult for her family to put food on the table.

She said, “I can’t imagine what these families are going through. I have been there and I want to help, if I can, to alleviate a little bit by bringing food for those families.”

The Salvation Army was able to provide food baskets for the families, and the teacher picked them up and delivered them herself.

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19 in Florida.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

The Salvation Army in Ocala, Florida, held a drive-through distribution designed to fill much more than physical needs.

To help ease the burden of grocery expenses, each car received a box of food with non-perishable items, fresh produce, baked goods, and frozen meat, but it didn’t stop there. They also received a hot takeaway meal for everyone in their household.

The Salvation Army recognizes that needs during a crisis go far beyond financial, so each person was also offered an activity bag for children in their family, a Bible (English or Spanish), and personal prayer from an emotional and spiritual care team member.

In total, more than 350 meals were provided to 175 cars that came through the distribution line.

Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19 in Florida.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

Lt. Camilo Rojas, director of The Salvation Army of Okaloosa and Walton counties, carries bags of groceries to a vehicle during a food distribution at The Salvation Army’s offices in Fort Walton Beach. [DEVON RAVINE/DAILY NEWS]

The Salvation Army hosted an emergency food distribution in Fort Walton Beach, Florida for residents of Okaloosa and Walton counties to help meet the growing need in their community.

Staff and volunteers prepared 200 bags of groceries, each with enough food to feed a family of five for a week. Lt. Camilo Rojas, Administrator for The Salvation Army in Fort Walton Beach, says they decided to host a drive-through food distribution after seeing a large increase in demand at their regular food pantry.

“There’s a lot of people we’ve never seen before in our food pantry,” said Rojas. “So we know there’s a great need.”

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More than 2,100 pounds of food delivered to senior living community in need

The Salvation Army delivered more than 2,100 pounds of food to residents of a senior living complex in Fort Myers, Florida. Many of the men and women have disabilities and have been unable to access food and other necessities on their own for weeks.

Physical ailments and transportation changes have presented a challenge for the apartment residents looking to gather needed supplies. Bus routes have been altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the community leaning on each other for help.

“I’ve been running around and try to help those that can’t come out to get [food],” Geneva Ward, apartment resident explains to Major Carlyle Gargis, Area Commander for The Salvation Army serving the Ft. Myers area. “There is a definite need here,” Geneva continues, “We’re glad to have y’all come out.”

The Salvation Army’s Canteen (mobile feeding unit) loaded up and delivered emergency food bags, each filled with enough food items to last at least one week. Oatmeal, canned beans, rice, soup, and other non-perishables were hand-delivered to each member of the complex that needed assistance.

“Every little bit helps and we’re just so grateful for each of our donors because we are making a difference in the lives of the people right here in this neighborhood,” explains Major Gargis.

The Salvation Army has also increased its pantry service from one to three days each week to help meet the growing needs of the community. Two of those days are dedicated to taking resources directly into vulnerable communities.

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Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19 in Florida.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

When we think of those on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, we think of our much-needed medical professionals and first responders. Still, thankfully in St. Petersburg, Florida, one neighborhood also thought of The Salvation Army.

Pam and a group of her neighbors had seen the call to make washable, reusable facemasks from fabric to help cut down the spread of the virus.

Knowing those that live and work at emergency shelters can be vulnerable populations, the group of neighbors sewed more than 100 colorful and most importantly washable face masks, enough for each staff member and resident at The Salvation Army.

“Every day we are working with staff and residents to practice social distancing and increase daily cleaning measures to keep everyone safe and healthy,” says Lt. Colonel Gary Haupt, Salvation Army Area Commander in St. Petersburg, Florida. “But when you have a group think of you and bring you a gift like these masks, you are reminded you are not alone, we are all in this together, and we will get through this as a community, helping each other.”

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19 in Florida.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

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91104234_2809029459166273_5129621351627227136_n palm beach The Salvation Army in West Palm Beach, Florida held its monthly food distribution with a few safety modifications to continue service during the coronavirus pandemic.

The drive-through service was made possible through donations to the food pantry from the community, Palm Beach Harvest, Whole Foods, and FitTeam Ballpark.

“We are grateful for the community support of businesses such as the FitTeam Ballpark, who donated food that would have been used for the many Spring Training games that were canceled,” says Major Chip and Leisa Hall, Administrators for The Salvation Army serving Palm Beach County. “We are also grateful for the many volunteers, including Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Katherine Waldron, who withstood the midday sun to help others.”

More than 100 families (327 individuals) were served in one day, with an expectation of that number increasing over the coming months.

The Salvation Army in Palm Beach County is seeing an increase in requests across their three social services offices from individuals and families struggling to make ends meet.

Those wishing to support their local Salvation Army food pantry are asked to drop off boxes of non-perishable food items to their local unit or visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/give to make a gift online.

91402590_10163332654935333_1102329134912110592_n sanfordIn these days of social distancing, The Salvation Army in Seminole County (Sanford, Florida) is still committed to connecting with their community.

Over the course of several days, Salvation Army pastors and employees dropped off care packages on the doorsteps of church members and program participants, and even took boxes to a local assisted living facility for seniors that may be feeling the effects of isolation more acutely than others.

The care packages included food bags, water, snacks, activity books, cards, and other personal items.

“We have loved our people from afar,” says Major Julia Tarnue, Administrator for The Salvation Army serving Seminole County. “Smiles, hand waves and “hugs” through windows are not the norm, but I feel we are more connected than ever!”

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.

Major Juan Guadalupe - COVID 19 feeding

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As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, The Salvation Army in Manatee County (Bradenton, Florida) temporarily suspended its traditional community dinner offered weeknights.

This meal has always been free to anyone in the community in need – regardless if they are homeless or not.  Knowing this is a vital service, the decision was made to hold the community dinner outside and serve meals in to-go packages.

“Initially, we saw a drop-off in our numbers,” stated Tom Giglio, The Salvation Army’s Food Services Manager in Bradenton.  He added, “but now, with so many people losing their jobs and not knowing when they will see a paycheck again, we’ve seen a spike of new people coming for food.  We are seeing many more families than normal now.”

Since so many of the dinner patrons are not homeless, this gives them the opportunity to pick up meals for their family, while staying within the CDC social distancing guidelines and eat that meal in the comfort of their own homes.

Didi, a regular at the community dinner, is appreciative to be able to have a hot meal each evening.  She said, “I am so grateful that The Salvation Army is there to serve this dinner. I worried about what would happen when all of the restaurants had to close, but you are still here to help people like me.”

Mobile handwashing stations have also been put in place to give people a chance to wash their hands before handling their own dinner.  Clients staying at the shelter are also directed to wash their hands when they reenter the building.

Click here to learn about The Salvation Army’s national response to coronavirus COVID-19.

If you would like to submit a prayer request or a request for one of our pastors to call you for prayer, please visit www.SalvationArmyFlorida.org/pray.

Click here to help The Salvation Army continue meeting needs in your community.