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Land O' Lakes charity 'run out of home' credits the community for all the support

Charity
Posted at 2:48 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 16:14:46-04

LAND O' LAKES — There are a lot of non-profit organizations out there that focus on taking care of the homeless, but not many of them are run by just one person, out of their own garage. That’s what’s happening in Land O’ Lakes.

Beth Ross stopped parking cars in her garage years ago, every week there’s a team of volunteers packing up hundreds of supplies like an assembly line.

The toothbrushes, deodorant, and soaps are put into something Ross likes to call a “blessing bag.”

“Next door neighbors, people in the community come by and drop off stuff, it’s so amazing, it's just a blessing,” said Ross.

It all began with Ross handing out blankets to the homeless six years ago, and soon the non-profit organization, Blanket Tampa Bay, was born.

“I always have blankets in my car so I’ll pass them out if I see somebody,” said Ross. “17,000 blankets in the last six years, that’s a lot of blankets.”

Ross said there was one particular man who really inspired her to give back.

“I was going to work one day and I saw this elderly man, a homeless man, sitting on a bench, and it was very cold, and he just had a T-shirt on,” said Ross. “And when I went to work and came back I was like, ‘O my gosh that man has been sitting there all day,” said Ross.

Ross could tell something wasn’t right and called the police who brought him to the hospital.

“Turns out that the gentleman had been sitting on the bench for four days, he had a broken hip and kidney failure,” said Ross.

“That’s what keeps me going because there are so many people like him,” said Ross.

She said starting and growing a charity later in life comes with its challenges, so she has relied heavily on volunteers to help pack up and hand out supplies. Earlier this month it was the staff from Frazier and Dieter.

“I think it’s important to support some of the smaller charities in our community, what we do can be very impactful for a charity like Blanket Tampa Bay so we are just really proud,” said Lori Rodriguez, with Frazier and Dieter.

For more information on Blanket Tampa Bay go to blanketampabay.org.