Largo, Florida -- Help has come from all over the community after a local food pantry was broken into twice in a week.
The Open Arms ministry, part of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Largo, lost over 500 pounds of food to crooks last week – food they distribute to over 4,500 people in need. Thirty-five percent of those receiving food are children.
"It's taking food out of the mouths of kids," said Senior Pastor Bob Martin. "Whoever did this does not realize the magnitude. They might have gotten off with a couple of chests of food that they might be reselling somewhere but they don't realize the benevolence that comes and how many lives this impacts."
Since the break-ins, Open Arms has bounced back slowly thanks to the generosity of strangers. Winn Dixie grocery store donated $1,000. The Fresh Market donated meat. Others have stopped in to help however they can.
"It's not very often anymore that people give of themselves more than they have to," said Karla Moreno. "We definitely wanted to reach out and give something else back to our community."
The food pantry at St. Paul's in Largo has been robbed twice, but the community in stepping in to help.
Moreno was just one of many people from the Largo community who stopped by to help out a food pantry in need. She and her husband run Iron Shield Security and helped install a new security system to keep Open Arms safer.
"We want to make sure they're protected and safe and we want to make sure the people that are coming to this facility are receiving what they come to get," she said.
What started off as tragedy has turned into triumph. Thieves took a lawn mower and generator in addition to all of the food. Open Arms is in need of dry goods, canned goods, baby items, bread, cleaning supplies and toiletries as well as gently used clothing items.
If you would like to donate to Open Arms ministry, you can stop by their location at 1199 Highland Avenue, Largo, FL 33770 or contact the Open Arms director, Yvette Carter, at either (727) 586-5380 or (813) 735-4098. You can drop items off at the 5/3 Bank on Missouri Avenue up the road from the church of email Open Arms at firstname.lastname@example.org