By Lili DeGrasse
On the fourth Saturday of every month, parishioners and volunteers from Mary Help of Christians (Mary Help) in Tampa, FL go out to poorer areas of town. Once there, they distribute sandwiches and bags of food, talk, pray, and share time with the homeless and most in need.
The program, called Outreach, began almost eight years ago at Mary Help and is currently led by Bob and Marge Fallon and Kevin Einsmann. Parishioners and friends of Mary Help donate food and items throughout the month. Bob, Marge, Kevin, and other volunteers gather and sort the items, preparing between 40-60 bags of food to distribute. Then, on the given Saturday, everyone loads the food bags, tables, and Outreach signs into vehicles and heads over to Busch Blvd. The idea is to bring the love of God to people in need. The Outreach spends time with the men and women who come through and many of those in need. Those in need will often ask for prayer after having received their food bags.
Has our response changed during the pandemic? Thankfully, it has not. The people of Mary Help continue to donate generously each month. Moreover, Outreach and its volunteers continue to give their time and service out on the street and meet the poor where they are.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me."
– Matthew 25:35