ACT Right food giveaway a huge success

BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – ACT Right is at it again and this time they were behind a food giveaway, which elicited quite a crowd last Saturday. Held in a vacant parking lot next to the St. Petersburg College Midtown campus along 22nd St. S., community members arrived throughout the morning to partake in a food giveaway that not only had the receivers smiling, but those helping out the residents who live there as well.

“We need to feed our community, mind, body and soul,” said Tony Macon, president of ACT Right, a grassroots organization founded by Macon himself some five years ago to help out those in need. “We want to give back and let the community know we’re here to help give a hand up, not a hand out.”

The group Bringing Back the Village Experience was also in attendance to give a helping hand, but the real excitement arose when local police officers arrived to help pass out food items. Chief of Police Anthony Holloway and Assistant Chief Luke Williams were even there helping to bring boxes filled with grocery items to resident’s cars.

“This is a very historical occasion,” said Pastor Eddie Robinson with Brister Temple Church. I don’t think this has happened before where the police department has come down and offered their services to help the community.”

Robinson knows a lot about helping those in need. As president of the Interdenominational Ministers Alliance (IMA), he along with other pastors and reverends from various denominations meet up to brainstorm ways to come together for the betterment of the community.

Robinson joined up with ACT Right over a haircut at Macon’s establishment, Esquire Barbershop. “When he heard some of the things that ACT Right was doing in the community he said, ‘Let’s partner up together,’” said Macon, “and naturally if it’s a good thing for the community, ACT Right will follow behind you.”

Both Macon and Robinson believes it is imperative that the St. Petersburg police department continue to show up at community events such as this in order to show the local residents that they care about them.

“I invited the police department to be a part of this to let the people know, ‘I don’t want to just arrest you, I want to show you that I’m your servant,’” said Robinson. “This is what we got started and this is the first of many.”

For the next twelve months, ACT Right and IMA plan to join together bringing needed items to the city and its residents. They plan to have these giveaways all over the city, but will concentrate on the south side of town. They are expecting next month to bring the mayor and deputy mayor, who could not show due to prior engagements.

“They’re all going to be hands on board showing the people that yes, somebody loves you,” said Robinson.

My Place in Recovery, located at 1655 16th St. S., is a program that is dedicated to helping the homeless, the poor and those dealing with substance abuse issues. Members of their thrift store, which has low priced furniture and household items, that include clothes, electronics and books, were also on hand giving away clothing items.

John Sanders counsels addicts in the 12 step program at My Place in Recovery and was busy at the food drive handing out clothes for free to families in need. “I’m here to assist them in any way I can,” he said.

Church music played in the background as the clouds loomed overhead, but it didn’t stop the steady flow of traffic onto the lot. With hotdogs and chips being passed out to hungry citizens, drinks in hand to quench their thirst, patrons took time to stop and chat with one another before heading out with their free items.

Items given away were pantry staples such as can goods, macaroni and cheese, rice, snacks for kid’s lunches, clothing, feminine hygiene products, and other toiletries were given out as well.

Eddie Pelham, Jr. of Moving Forward with a Purpose was out there helping cook the hotdogs and distribute food. Pelham created Moving Forward with a mission to help mentor troubled teens riding that infamous pipeline to prison.

“It is designed to mentor those that are going down the wrong path,” said Pelham, “from brothers that have done time and are out here every day now doing right.”

Having spent the majority of his life in prison, Pelham knows what it’s like to need someone’s assistance in making the right choices and even though Moving Forward is still in its infancy for now, being run via mobile phone, Pelham wants to give back.

“That’s why we work hard and do what we do in our community,” he said.

If you didn’t get a chance to stop by this time to partake in some of the items being donated to needy families, or if you just want to give back and be part of the giving back process, contact Macon with ACT Right to see where next month’s community event will take place.

You can reach Macon at his shop, Esquire Barbershop, located at 1125 22nd St. S., and while you’re at it maybe grab a haircut and give back to the man who loves to give back to the community.

To reach Holly Kestenis, email hkestenis@theweeklychallenger.com

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