BEAM hopes to shine light for families in need during pandemic

Tens of thousands of pounds of food distributed to those struggling during COVID-19 quarantine

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry also known as BEAM is providing thousands of dollars in rent assistance and tens of thousands of pounds of food to people who are struggling during the pandemic.

They've managed to do this even though they've had to reduce their volunteer staff from 200 people to just 20.

That tiny army of people is working during a pandemic to help people desperately in need.

Volunteers stock the pantry at BEAM. (WJXT)

Recently, many lined up outside Finegan Elementary School for food, and others patiently waited to receive groceries at a mobile pantry near Oak Harbor Church in Mayport.

While they could probably use a hug, those aren't allowed right now.

Instead, compassion from the BEAM volunteers comes in the form of fresh produce, eggs and bread carried away in baskets or the trunks of cars.

Gracie Simendinger, director of development for BEAM, said it's another day in the life of the organization that offers not just food, but also financial assistance to help anyone who lives or works at the beach pay rent or utility bills.“We're not sure how long this is going to last, so we're trying our best to keep up with the needs. It's always important to continue to have access to families in need,” Simendinger said. “It's incredible that 60% of the clients that we have helped to date have never been a BEAM client (before the pandemic).”

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