BRANDON — Vicki Harrison, First United Methodist Church of Brandon minister of missions and pastoral care director, doesn’t like to turn people away empty handed.
In addition to the many social-services ministries the church provides to the community, individuals who approach church staff and members for money or food may get a manna bag — a zippered plastic bag containing a bottle of water, a granola bar, canned meat, peanut butter crackers, socks and a benevolence card listing Harrison’s Monday and Tuesday office hours, along with phone numbers for ECHO and the Women’s Resource Center of Tampa.
“That way (we) are offering something,” said Harrison. “We keep a bin filled with (manna bags) in our church lobby area, so people can grab a few to keep in their car and pass out when they see someone panhandling. Those who are homeless and come to worship with us can take one as needed as well.”
Harrison’s benevolence cards also are left in church bathrooms so people can take them discreetly and arrange to talk with her.
She said sometimes individuals and families “need resources that are much larger than we can provide, but oftentimes they simply need some guidance, a listening ear and spiritual support and love.”
To reach Harrison, call the church office at (813) 689-4161.