The VOICE of Inspiration
By Don Lindsey
About two years ago Inspire, the church I belong to, made the decision to start a homeless ministry. The main idea behind that was an obvious one. We wanted to do anything we could to help those in our area that were in need. Once we dug into the homeless situation in Apopka, we found that the needs we were looking to help with were overwhelming and decided to partner or work with the organizations in the surrounding area that were already providing services to those who need it. I volunteered to be the research person of our ministry, I would search the internet, read articles, and follow up on anything I had heard about regarding the topic of homelessness. It was during that process that I discovered a wonderful ministry called Loaves and Fishes.
While our church was never able to work directly with this group, the information I gathered during my research process really spoke to me. Loaves and Fishes is an organization that was created in 1984 by area churches that focused on combining the resources they had to help feed the residents of the community that were affected by two devastating freezes that saw the lowest recorded temperatures in the north and central Florida regions and wiped out much of the valued citrus crops that so many depended on.
As the years passed, the organization has moved its mission towards providing necessities to less fortunate families and individuals.
Every year Loaves and Fishes distributes 17,000 food boxes to 37,000 residents throughout an area that covers nine different zip codes. Every month basic items such as toiletries, baby and household items are passed out to those seeking help. What’s amazing to me about this is that Loaves and Fishes is not a government funded program. The help that they provide comes from the donations provided by area businesses, churches, individuals, schools and other organizations. This also means that since they are not a government funded group, they can bring the word of God to those willing to hear it and provide Bibles to those who may need or want one. That fact stood out to me because from my own personal struggles, I’ve learned that the guidance and comfort one can receive from God truly makes an enormous difference in my mindset when I’m having difficulty navigating life. So, while I am sure the lack of government funding hurts with what they could provide, it’s nice to know that they are providing a tool for folks that I believe is of the upmost importance when dealing with hardship.
Another great aspect of this organization is its volunteers. According to their monthly newsletter and website, Loaves and fishes has 135 volunteers who do everything from volunteering time for food drives, distribute food and other items, donating resources and a host of other things that keep the organization operational. The ways to volunteer or donate are listed on their website and include, holding a food drive, collecting toiletry and household items, and taking advantage of the BOGO (buy one get one) deals that you see at your favorite supermarkets and donating the item that you do not use to Loaves and Fishes. For more about this organization and all the wonderful things that they do, please visit http://www.loavesandfishesapopka.com/
The more I consider doing these types of columns (writing about area organizations who dish out love and kindness) the more I find myself inspired to do more positive things in my own life. In my opinion, Loaves and Fishes is another one of those great groups that are making a mark on this world for the better. I’m still looking for other ideas for future articles so please send your suggestions and any information that you may have on the organization to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, and community.