This Saturday, a local athletics organization for kids will serve a Thanksgiving feast to 100 residents at Tampa Hope, a temporary shelter for those experiencing homelessness in Hillsborough County. Tampa Hope also provides clothes, food, counseling, job placement, and more to homeless men and women.
R.U.F.F. Athletics is a Christian-based organization that works to build confidence for kids through sports. They operate a track and field team for kids, who will take part in the day of volunteering at the Tampa Hope site.
Sharika Smith-Ball, who serves as one of the CEOs of R.U.F.F. Athletics, experienced homelessness as a child and understands the challenges faced by the residents of Tampa Hope. She said the children in the program are very excited to spend another year volunteering.
Sharika Smith-Ball experienced homelessness as a child. Now, her family and her organization focus on giving back. (Courtesy: Sharika Smith-Ball)
“It’s a very valuable thing for our kids to be able to understand that at some point, we will all need a helping hand,” Smith-Ball said. “Empathy, kindness, and grace are key. Tampa Hope is an incredible organization providing a lifeline to people in our community. This day of service is a reminder to our kids to appreciate all the blessings they have in their lives."
In March 2020, the City of Tampa partnered with the Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg to create Tampa Hope. Now, the City’s Homeless Advocacy Team helps reach out to people dealing with homelessness and directs them to the resources and wraparound services found at Tampa Hope.
“I am so proud and grateful to be working with Catholic Charities on this compassionate and innovative program to help people along the path to self-sufficiency,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “I believe firmly that this city’s success depends on improving the quality of life for every Tampa resident no matter their current economic status. Tampa Hope will improve and save lives.”
“Tampa Hope is a great starting point in helping rebuild lives,” said Maggie Rogers, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. “This is a place where you can stay off the streets and find safety and a true support network to lift you up when you need it most.”
HOW TO HELP TAMPA HOPE
- Donate by calling (813) 333-7269.
- Feel free to drop off donations directly to Tampa Hope Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 3704 E. 3rd Ave, Tampa, FL, 33605. You can also donate cash by texting "tampahope" to 91999
NOTE: There is a special need for newly purchased bathroom towels, blankets, and bed sheets!