I never even knew there was a Head Start program for migrant workers in Myakka City. Then my friend Betsy Plante asked if we would come take pictures for her and her group. Betsy is a co-founder of The Blessing Bags Project in Bradenton, FL. Their mission is to “provide items to the homeless and less fortunate in our community.”
Betsy had heard that Dakin Dairy was having to dump their milk since so many restaurants and stores were not buying due to quarantine. They were reaching out to charities and non-profits to try to connect and not waste their product.
As it happens, a volunteer had donated $1000 to “feed some kids.” So, Betsy contacted Melissa at Dakin Dairy to talk about a plan to work together. Then she reached out to Esperanza Gamboa at MCR Health who Betsy had participated with at health fairs.
How it came together
Betsy said, “Within two hours, we planned the event. We bought milk and Dakin matched the donations. Esperanza reached out to Tropicana and they donated. The Blessing Bags Project immediately began ordering snacks for 300 kids. In normal instances, this would be easy, however, since Covid-19, trying to buy anything in bulk is difficult. Hungers End filled our room with boxes of candy to put into the kids snack bags and we spent two days bagging with only 3 volunteers.”
When we got there our plan was to help set up tables for ‘blessing bags’ full of toys and candy for children. The folks from Head Start had a table of goodies and juices from Tropicana to give away. And, of course, Dakin Dairy was giving away gallon jugs of milk. There was also good information in both English and Spanish explaining how to protect from COVID-19 and where to go for testing.
Every volunteer had a mask on their face and gloves on their hands and were getting all the tables ready for the children and their parents. Mostly it was parents that came and picked up blessing bags for their children. They would come up to the tables and get what they wanted and sometimes they had several gallons of milk to take home to their families.
After the first few families came up on foot, the organizers decided to have folks stay in their cars. They made a drive through to help with the social distancing and to help everyone involved to stay safe. Many families were blessed at this give away and all of the volunteers felt blessed as well.
A blessing, for sure
Betsy said, “It just amazes me how God had His hands in this outreach. It was like a puzzle and He put all the pieces together.”
Photos from The Suncoast Post. Top photo – tables with ‘blessing bags’ and Tropicana juice with volunteers and migrant family.