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Our Lady's Pantry
Serving families in Balm, Wimauma, and Sun City Center, Florida

Our Lady’s Pantry is at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Migrant Mission, 16650 U.S. Highway 301, Wimauma, Florida 33598.

They distribute food from a number of sources: For example, the Pantry purchases food from Feeding Tampa Bay with funding provided by countless individuals in this community and several philanthropic organizations. Donations are also received weekly from Publix, Aldi’s, Costco, and other local markets.

In addition, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) — a Federal program under the umbrella of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including the elderly, by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost.

Everyone who works at Our Lady’s Pantry is a volunteer, including our directors. No one receives a salary.

Our Lady's Pantry traces its beginnings to 1999 when the Knights of Columbus of Prince of Peace Catholic Church, and their wives, first provided food for families in the vestibule of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Migrant Mission Church.

In 1999, the Pantry served about 25 families a week; today about 200 families come for food on alternate Saturday mornings. That's an average of 400 different families from Sun City Center, Balm, and Wimauma every two weeks. In all, more than 1,500 households are currently registered at Our Lady’s Pantry. 

Tom Bullaro, Director of Our Lady's Pantry, along with the team of volunteers work behind the scenes to make it all happen. Volunteer drivers get the food from Feeding Tampa Bay and other sources and bring it to the Pantry on Tuesdays and Fridays. Other volunteers then sort the food and stock shelves, a huge freezer, and a huge refrigerator.

On Saturday mornings, volunteers welcome the recipients, pack boxes of groceries, and distribute the food.

Volunteer jobs are generally divided into two groups, drivers and "everything else."

Drivers pick up food from Feeding America and other sites on Tuesdays and Fridays and deliver it to the Pantry.

The "everything else" includes:  
• Sorting groceries, and stocking  shelves, the refrigerator, and the freezer.
• Packing boxes for families for Saturday mornings.

Whatever time you can devote is great, whether it be just a couple of hours a week or more.

Your volunteer experience starts with a tour and explanation of the entire operation followed by an assignment to work alongside another, experienced volunteer.  If you have weight lifting restrictions, you'll never be asked to lift heavy objects.  Volunteers work almost as a cross between team and family with everyone "pitching in."  Within three to five weeks you'll have a handle on the entire operation and be able to do any of the things needing to be done.

The Pantry also continually needs people who can identify sources of grants, audit the books, maintain the paperwork, organize food drives, and raise money.

Have a skill or talent not mentioned?  Come on in and talk to us, we can probably put your heart, talent, and skills to good use.

It requires tremendous amounts of volunteer support to run Our Lady's Pantry. It could never be done without volunteers who give two or more hours of their time to the Pantry.

If you’d like to volunteer or have questions, either drop by on Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday morning or call Tom or Anita Bullaro at (813) 633-2384.

More specific details about the jobs follow:

Drivers

These volunteers work Tuesdays and/or Fridays. They leave Wimauma around 6:00 a.m. and drive to Warehouse Six in the back of the Tampa Distribution Center at 1212 N. 50th St., just off Rt. 60. Drivers are usually back in Wimauma around 9 a.m. when they unload the truck with a team of other volunteers who are waiting to help. When the truck is empty, the driver picks up surplus foods from local markets and brings that back to be unloaded. Drivers are usually all finished by 11:00 a.m.

The Pantry truck is a large refrigerated truck that holds about 10 pallets of food. Importantly, some experience driving a truck is necessary, but the driver does not need any special certification to drive this truck.

If you’d like to volunteer as a driver or have questions, scroll to the form at the bottom of this page, complete, and submit it.

Unloaders and Stockers

These volunteers start working on Tuesdays and Fridays when the food trucks get back to Wimauma, around 9 a.m. Their primary job is to assist in unloading the truck and stocking the merchandise on Pantry shelves, refrigerators, freezers, etc.. At least some of these volunteers will need to be able to lift and move heavey boxes of canned foods. This job is usually completed by 11:30 a.m.  Many who work on Tuesdays or Fridays also choose to work on Saturdays.

If you’d like to volunteer in this area or have questions, scroll to the form at the bottom of this page, complete, and submit it.

Food Distribution

This is a Saturday morning job that starts around 6:45 a.m with several positions to fill. Recipients come from between 7:30 a.m.and 11 a.m. Volunteers set up tables with food, and some move food from the shelves to the area where the boxes are packed. Others restock shelves as they are emptied, and some put the filled boxes in recipients’ cars. There will be moderately heavy lifting involved and those tasks will be given to those with adequate upper body strength.

The food distribution ends at 11 a.m. and, as a rule, all volunteers are ready to leave within about 30 minutes. While many of those who work on Saturday are here from start up to close down, we do have two shifts. Early birds come before 7 a.m. and leave about 9 a.m., when our second shift comes in to work until closing. Many of the Saturday morning workers also choose to volunteer on Tuesdays and/or Fridays. 

If you’d like to volunteer to work on Saturday, or have questions, complete and submit the form below.

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