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A Very Difficult Trip Through Manatee County Left Me Sad and Speechless

| Sande Caplin |

Betsy Plante, President of the Blessing Bags Project, is a very special lady.  She, along with many volunteers and the Blessing Bags Board of Directors, is involved with so many projects, from feeding the homeless, helping families that are in need, hosting an annual Christmas Party for underprivileged kids at the Swordfish Grill and Tiki in Cortez, helping Ukrainian families that are settling in our area and so much more.

Just about every Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, she goes out with “Tony,” a former homeless person (that’s another story), in a van that was donated to the agency by Sherry & Scott Elliot of 88Live in Bradenton to feed the homeless folks, give them basic toiletries, bug spray and just about anything else they can use living on the streets.

I went along last Sunday to observe, learn, and take photos.  I am a proud Board Member of the Blessing Bags Project and felt the need to see Betsy “in the trenches.”

It was a real eye-opener.  I was stunned.  Folks living on the streets, sleeping on the streets.  It wasn’t that I had not seen this before but being up so close and personal put my mind and body into a tailspin.  We fed close to 75 folks.  At every stop, Betsy let them know that I was on the BOD and asked if it would be okay if I took some photos to raise awareness of what we are doing and to raise additional funds to keep the program going.  Except for a few, they were all receptive.


The pictures that I took show the despair on their faces.  There are also some great photos of them smiling with Betsy.  I got a chance to talk to several of these folks.  So many of them are kind, intelligent and were so happy to see us.  I talked with them about their situation, and it broke my heart to hear some of their stories.

The top photo in this story shows a gentleman in a wheelchair.  He is a U.S. Military Veteran who somehow went in the wrong direction.  He spoke with me candidly.  He wasn’t bitter.  He was a kind person who appreciated talking with me and so appreciated the sandwich, coffee, and other items that were given to him.  He lives on the streets.

There are so many opinions on what should be done to help the homeless population.  That is not the purpose of my story.  My purpose is to remind everyone reading this today is that many of these folks did something constructive in a prior life.  They are good people, nice people, intelligent people who right now are trapped.

The photos will show you the despair and sadness on their faces.  Betsy Plante, her BOD, and volunteers work tirelessly to help the underprivileged.  In these difficult times, if you can help with a monetary donation, here is the direct link.

I will certainly write more about this in the future.  Your comments are certainly welcome.


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Photos from The Suncoast Post / Sande Caplin & Associates

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