Share the Blessings Ministry is looking for a home. The 2-year-old program provides food, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene items to people in need, filling a void that food stamps don’t cover and helping those who don’t qualify for food stamps but still need assistance.
“I got the feeling that we needed this ministry when I met people and heard their stories,” said Fran Kowalczyk, an alternative healing and massage therapist who is also an ordained minister but is not associated with a church.
The ministry holds yard sales monthly at different locations to raise money for the food and supplies. It stores donations and holds the sales at various volunteers’ homes.
Since it has no storage location, it also keeps the food and toiletries it buys in volunteers’ homes, then brings the items to the location where they’ll be distributed each month.
Recently, the ministry distributed items in the parking lot of O’Connor Realty in Port Charlotte. Next month, it will set up at St. Mark’s Baptist Church on DuPont Street in Punta Gorda. The date isn’t set yet, but it will be on the ministry’s voice mail later this month.
“We serve about 90 to 100 people every month,” said Kowalczyk. “Some know about us through word of mouth or fliers that we hand out at each distribution of supplies, and some are referred to us through the Homeless Coalition, other organizations or 211” — a resource that refers people to area services for all kinds of needs.
Sometimes Share the Blessings Ministry hears that a family needs clothes, and it will collect for that too. It often has clothing at the distributions just in case.
“Last week, one of our volunteers went to a yard sale, and as it was the end of the day, the sellers didn’t know what to do with their leftovers. She took them and put them in her garage for our next yard sale,” said Kowalczyk.
A permanent home would allow Share the Blessings Ministry to store items, hold the yard sales and distribute food and supplies to the people who need them all from one location. The public would know where it would be each month, and where to drop off donations.
“If we had a permanent location, we could get food from the Harry Chapin Food Bank,” said Kowalczyk. “Right now, we don’t qualify because we don’t have a regular food pantry.”
Instead, Kowalczyk buys items at a liquidator store in Fort Myers or asks volunteers to pick them up on their way from Tampa or other areas where supplies are cheaper.
In addition to a permanent home, the ministry needs more volunteers and donations, which are tax deductible. To help or receive assistance, contact Share the Blessings Ministry at 941-276-7278.