Hope Presbyterian Church congregants enjoy participating in our "Shopping Cart" ministry. It's a simple way to help others in our community who are less fortunate. Each month, the contents of the shopping cart (and yes! it really is a shopping cart) goes to either *Family Emergency Services or **My Brother's Keeper, both very worthy organizations right here in Winter Haven.
When it is the month for the cart contents to go to Family Emergency Services, we collect non-perishable food items and products for use in the home. (These items go to families.)
When it is My Brother's Keeper's turn, we collect food for snack packs, personal hygiene products, laundry detergent pods, hotel-size shampoos, soaps, & lotions, and canned goods. (These items go to college students.)
One way to support this effort is to shop "buy one, get one free" at the local grocery. When you shop this way, put the "get one free" item in a separate bag and drop that in the shopping cart and Hope Church.
If you prefer, you may certainly contribute monetary gifts. If that is your choice, make your check payable to either "Family Emergency Services" or "My Brother's Keeper" and drop the check in the offering plate.
*Family Emergency Services is a non-profit agency providing food, prescriptions, rent, utilities, and holiday assistance to indigent families.
**My Brother's Keeper is a non-profit agency providing assistance to homeless students at Polk State College.
Polk State College
Winter Haven, Florida
My Brother's Keeper (MBK) was founded in 2012 by professors at Polk State College (PSC) who observed students living in their cars, being very hungry in class, needing books they couldn’t afford, needing proper clothes for job interviews, and needing medical attention. In addition to addressing immediate needs, MBK staff coordinates with various social service agencies and non-governmental organizations to help students. Hope contributed $10,000 to MBK in 2015, and we continue to support them.
Housing is the most critical need. Nutritional needs are the second most important. The lack of a permanent address prevents student eligibility for food stamps. Immediate needs include clothes for job interviews, food for snack packs, and cash for books and scholarships. Hope regularly collects snack-pack foods, canned goods, personal hygiene items, laundry detergent pods, hotel-size shampoo, soap, lotions, and the like for MBK.
Cedarkirk is a year-round camp and conference center owned by the Presbyteries of Tampa Bay and Peace River. It is dedicated to providing a place for individuals and groups to have the opportunity for spiritual renewal and growth in a natural environment. They strive to create a place free of distractions, where conversation around the dinner table, canoe trips on the river, and walks in the woods revive and feed your spirit.
The facilities are used for retreats, meetings, conferences, leadership training, camping, outdoor experiences, and more. At Cedarkirk, in a place and time apart from busy lives, people find a variety of ways to recharge and grow in God’s love.
Support opportunities at Cedarkirk range from donations and sponsorships to hands-on volunteer work around the camp. Hope currently supports Cedarkirk with sponsorships and is exploring other ways to do so.
PC(USA) Synod of South Atlantic
Clinton, South Carolina
The Thornwell Home for Chidren is an independent ministry in a covenant relationship with the PC(USA) Synod of the South Atlantic (that is, churches in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina). Its goals are to provide loving homes for abused, abandoned, and neglected children, to offer an opportunity for healing through proper healthcare and mental health counseling for every Thornwell child, and to offer these children hope for a successful future by providing educational support and teaching self-advocacy.
Thornwell also provides community-based services at the local level through its Building Families Program. The director of that program, Morgan Ednie, is based in Tampa. They also welcome youth mission trip volunteers to do service projects at the South Carolina campus.
Hope’s Missions Committee is exploring ways to partner with Thornwell.
Beth-El Farmworker Ministry is a Presbyterian mission organization that provides encouragement and assistance to farm workers and their families through opportunities for worship, participation in Christian educational programs, and secular programs with various partners in service. It is a covenant relationship with the Presbyteries of Tampa Bay and Peace River and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
All that occurs at Beth-El is centered around their worshiping community. Just one of the many programs they have at Beth-El is the Food Pantry. They distribute bags containing basic nutritional food items (such as rice, beans, canned goods, cereal, pasta, bread, and other staples) to an average of 400 families every Tuesday. This makes a very good supplement to the families’ weekly food needs, and in some cases is the mainstay of what families have to eat for the week. Hope feeds migrant farm workers at Beth-El several times a year. You can volunteer to help!