Church teams up with local organizations to help the homeless in Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hundreds of people who are homeless and low income in Hillsborough County got some help Saturday.

More than 300 people lined up one by one at the Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. Some carried everything they own. Others had nothing, or left the few belongings they do have behind where they find a place to sleep for the night.

Jim O’Sullivan remembers what it was like.

“I just didn’t have any place to go,” O’Sullivan said. “I was staying on this guys couch or this person’s couch and I didn’t actually have a home.”

Six years later, he’s sober and has a job and a place to live.

“Drugs and alcohol took me to a place where I had no other place to turn. I was on the streets,” he said.

He turned to the Salvation Army, one of the many organizations that came out Saturday to help people get their lives back together.

This is the third year Gwen Myers and the church have held the event. When Myers retired, she said this was her calling.

“Charity begins at home and when we look at so many people that are less fortunate, we want to be a missionary church providing the services that go to those who need it the most,” she said.

O’Sullivan is now the president of the Salvation Army Tampa Alumni Association. For him, it’s all about giving back.

“Help the next guy. Pass it forward. Move it forward. That’s the name of the game,” he said.

Different community organizations worked with the church to make the event happen. Another similar program takes place in January. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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