Saint Joseph is known as the patron saint of workers, among other things.
So, it seems apt that the Food and Baby Pantry at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 5316 11th St., in Zephyrhills is managed and run by hard-working volunteers.
The volunteers only mission is to help feed those who can use a hand.
The pantry volunteers are essential, said Beverly Burgess, the church’s business manager.
“It wouldn’t run without them,” Burgess said. “They give that work with all their heart. (The food pantry) is something we wouldn’t be able to do, without them.”
They selflessly give of their time, every week.
The Food and Baby Pantry at St. Joseph’s has been available for years, but for the past three years has been run and managed by husband and wife parishioners, Steve and Maggie Seranic.
Each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., anyone from the community can come receive a bag full of food and other essentials — all donated by St. Joseph parishioners when they attend Mass on Sundays.
“We have one couple that on the dot brings in four cases of food — every week,” said Sandy Wheeler, a pantry volunteer.
“It’s 100% donated from our parish,” added Maggie Seranic.
People who stop by for help typically are from Zephyrhills, Dade City and other nearby areas.
But Maggie Seranic said: “Sometimes we get people who come all the way from Tampa. We don’t turn anyone away. However, I keep a list to help them find a closer food pantry.”
While Saint Joseph’s food pantry day is on Wednesdays, Burgess said exceptions can be made to help on other days.
“We won’t turn anyone away, but we will remind them that we usually can only do it Wednesday,” Burgess said. “If someone comes, we’ll go into the pantry and make them a quick bag of food.”
While the Food Pantry is much sought after, the Baby Pantry is quite busy, too.
It also is well-stocked with all the essentials, from diapers to formula.
Becky Finley and Peg Blum-Rollins are two volunteers who help run bags of children’s essentials out to the cars of parents and families. COVID regulations are in place, so volunteers meet the parent at the car and take “an order” of what he or she needs.
“It’s very helpful, and I know there are people out there who need it more than me,” said Kassey Williams, a mother of three who lives in Zephyrhills. “I don’t go to this church, but it means a lot to me, it means a lot to other people, and I know a lot of those people are very thankful for them, just like I am.”
The Baby Pantry also is very good at providing clothes and other items for children, many of which are gently worn, returned and donated out again.
Sometimes, the timing is divine.
Blum-Rollins shared this example: “One time we had a mother come in and ask for a stroller, and as she was (asking), another woman came in and wanted to donate a stroller! They just transferred it right into the other car. It’s great to see the community helping each other out in a different way.”
“We want to be able to support those women and to do so is very rewarding,” Finley said.
Just as gratifying is the way the parish supports the pantries, and the generosity of the parishioners to stock them, Burgess said.
“All we have to do is ask,” Burgess said.
“For as long as I’ve been coming to this church, everyone will donate or get what we say is the most needed. People just respond and it is amazing — just amazing to see it happen at our church,” she said.
Published April 20, 2022
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.