Brother's Keeper programs from Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.

Brother's Keeper provides its parishioners and those from the local Marion County Florida community with emergency assistance. There is a referral that is needed from the Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in order to get aid, whether it is for food, prescriptions, or even bus tickets.

There are services provided regardless of the applicant's religion, age, race, or color. There is also help for immigrants and Spanish speakers. All of the assistance is provided first come and served, and most of it is the result of money raised from the thrift store. Appointments are required, and also a completed intake form is needed at the time of application. In addition, identification is always required when applying at Brother's Keeper.

When help is offered, no direct cash assistance is provided to the applicant. While they help with bills, the money is paid to the company or landlord or other provider, up to a certain limit. Some programs, such as tenants or homeowners applying for furniture must show a lease or those seeking utility bill help need to have documentation that the lights are on in the home. All of this information is always needed to be in the applicant's name.

Brother's Keeper will also require a current energy bill, copy of the applicant's budget and a picture ID. This is required for people, and they need an address that matches the bill is strongly advised for those applying for Ocala Electric Utilities (OEU) assistance. Other types of financial help offered through Brother's Keeper in Marion County Florida includes the following.

-Emergency groceries, free food, clothing, basic furniture
-Utility bill assistance for OEU customers only.
-Prescription vouchers for the under insured and low income.
-Free gasoline vouchers or bus tickets for use in Marion County, and this is for people who need help keeping documented medical appointments.

The Brother's Keeper Emergency Food Pantry holds a collection at the church. Volunteers work at the center during the first weekend of each month. Residents with a referral can get a pre-packaged bag of food, or purchase the box of groceries. They work closely with Publix on this program, and the charity also has a list of most-needed items they need from the community.





At the church's Soup Kitchen, lunch is available from noon to 1 pm every day. This is offered every day of the week, weekends, and holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. Directions to the Soup Kitchen and volunteer information are below can be obtained at 352-629-1292.

Seasonal programs are offered by Blessed Trinity Catholic Church. Brother's Keeper sponsors a number of special events throughout the year, including Bread Dinners, Lenten Soup, hot Thanksgiving Dinners, Easter Baskets, and Christmas Food and Gift Programs.

Christmas for Needy Families in Marion County - Each year before the Christmas holiday, the faith based Brother's Keeper helps ensure that hundreds of local underprivileged families are able to enjoy the holiday. There may be food given to them, such as Christmas hams or turkeys. They also collect donations of food and new toys for distribution to children, and the church also operates an Angel Tree gift giving program that offers parishioners the opportunity to buy a toy for a boy or girl of a specific age.

A Free Thanksgiving Dinner is served one month prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Brother's Keeper collects money to purchase groceries as well as Turkeys for distribution to hundreds of families living in poverty in Marion County who otherwise would not have Thanksgiving dinner.





In addition, the Soup Kitchen referenced above gathers food to prepare a healthy Thanksgiving feast as well. This can be for the homeless and others with no means to prepare their own meals. The church is always in need of volunteer drivers to deliver meals to senior citizens as well as homebound parishioners.

There is also a Brother's Keeper Thrift, Used Clothing and Furniture Store. This location is open too all residents of Marion County, no matter their income. At the location people can buy gently used merchandise at affordable prices. Donations of clothing and supplies are gratefully accepted, and they can be dropped off at Blessed Trinity or the main office from Monday through Friday. Clothing may also be dropped off in the clothes box at or at our downtown location. The store can be reached at 352-622-5544.

The thrift store is mostly manned by a full time worker, with volunteers as well. They handle the operations of the center. More participation from the community is always appreciated.

When facing a crisis, Blessed Trinity Catholic Church runs the Brothers Keeper program. The address is 5 S.E. 17th St., Ocala, FL 34471. Call them at 352-629-8092.



By Jon McNamara

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