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Veteran uses military experience to make a difference helping families in Pinellas County

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 15:58:33-05

PINELLAS COUNTY — As we prepare to feast on turkey and all the fixings, remember there are many families living in Tampa Bay who aren't sure where their next meal is coming from.

There’s an Army veteran in Pinellas County who is taking what he learned in the service and is using it to help those families in need.

“You have to have structure, you have to have order, you got to be committed, you got to be tenacious, you got to be determined,” said Kirk Smith, President and CEO of Hope Villages of America.

It sounds like Smith is referring to his days in the military, but these same core values he learned in the Army, he implements every day at any one of their 85 food banks.

“So if I couldn’t fight for the country in terms of protecting us from enemies abroad I could protect people from enemies such as hunger, homelessness, abuse,” said Smith.

Smith has been through a lot of missions during his eight years in the Army, but his current mission, to help 150,000 people a year throughout the county, is possibly the most challenging yet.

“November 26 people are still hungry, people are still hungry on December 26, people are still hungry on January 1, so the day after all these great events and holidays people are still suffering,” said Smith. “Service is important and really that’s what life is all about, if you can give back that sort of keeps you going.”

Smith said you don’t need to be a soldier to join his fight. Anyone who is willing to donate their time or money is welcome in his foxhole.

“If you experience any good in your life, if any of your dreams ever came true, if you had any good fortune whatsoever, I believe we have the obligation to at least let others feel that same thing,” said Smith.