On Jan. 23, dozens of people gathered in 40 degree weather at Munn Park for food and resources.
Sandwich Ministries, a student-run charity, regularly meets on Sundays to supply around 100 people with food and hygiene products to last them the day.
“I’ve never seen such kind people that are always happy no matter the circumstances,” Elise Clements said.
Elise Clements is a sophomore at Florida Southern and also the president of Sandwich Ministries. Florida Southern offers this program that welcomes all who have a longing to help within the community. In fact, a common misconception is that this ministry is only for the religiously affiliated.
Sandwich Ministries gather at the Fannin Center every Sunday afternoon to pack and deliver hygiene products like deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste. They also provide hand warmers and socks to give out at Munn Park. They also hand out snack bags which include a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, fruit snacks with a Sprite, Coke or a bottle of water.
They carpool and meet at Munn Park where everyone goes around and evenly distributes the items to everyone in need. Many love to converse with the volunteers and tell them about their life stories.
“A lot of them come just to have a friendly conversation with someone because many disregard them,” Clements said.
Many of those in need have said they keep a positive mindset. Jeff and Trisha, a couple without a home, walk with their dog Braxter, who has been their emotional support animal. That day they were denied entry to Lighthouse Ministries, a local shelter, because of their dog.
They then decided to walk to Munn Park with hopes of catching up with the Sandwich Ministries.
The two received food, socks and hand warmers, and then asked to pray over the charity.
“It is really important for me to have this perspective in life, it really humbles you,” Clements said. “I am grateful to know these people, just to talk about their life with them and everything they have been through.”
Emily Henninger, a freshman, said that “going out helping people” herself and “seeing everyone happy,” is a rewarding experience.
Most of the people who gathered at Munn Park say that they lost their jobs during the pandemic. Unemployment spiked to 18.4 percent in May 2020, the highest it’s been in over a decade. Many local businesses and restaurants were not able to survive due to stay at home policies which forced shutdowns and left many without a job.
A woman who wishes to go by Megan was in a major car crash over 20 years ago and has suffered many strokes since. She was told by doctors she wasn’t supposed to live past 2005.
Though Megan beat the odds and still lives, she fell into homelessness and became a benefactor of the charity for many years.
Now, Megan has a stable job and is closing on a house. She still stops by on Sundays to give out handmade cross necklaces and keychains to the volunteers of Sandwich Ministries.