Volunteer delivers the goods

Six years ago, after Andy Quaranta lost his job, he was faced a dilemma regarding his charitable giving.

Andy, a Midtown resident and a member of Bellevue Baptist Church, had been giving a portion of his income to Memphis Union Mission, and wanted to continue supporting the ministry. But finding himself unemployed with no regular income, he knew that giving at the same level as before would be nearly impossible.

But one day, while visiting a local Starbucks, something caught his attention.

“I was going to one Starbucks because I didn’t know what else to do,” Andy said. “And I saw a need with the bread and the other food that was being thrown away.”

Seeing the need, Andy asked the Starbucks if they would be willing to donate the leftover food to Memphis Union Mission. They consented as long as Andy would agree to pick up the bread on a frequent basis.

Andy agreed, thinking that this was a way he could continue to help the Mission. And from there, his own personal ministry, Manna from Heaven, began.

Today, Andy picks up the food on a daily and nightly basis from local area Starbucks coffee shops and Panera Bread stores with whom he has negotiated and contracted. Driving all over the city in his red Ford Explorer, picking up the food, delivering it to Memphis Union Mission, and filling out the required paper work keep him busy full time.

In a short period of time, the donated food’s value really adds up.

"About $3,000 a week comes in on average,” Andy said. “In the six years I’ve been doing this, over $777,000 worth of food has been donated.”

The food’s value doesn’t escape the notice of the Mission’s clients, either. 

"Often, as I’m taking the food into the Mission, the guys will say, ‘Wow, I could never afford to eat at Starbucks or Panera, and now we’re having it,’” Andy said.

The food pickups aren’t the only way in which Andy is involved in serving people in need. Each Saturday, he drives to Memphis Union Mission’s Calvary Colony facility to meet with a small group of men who are enrolled in the Mission’s recovery program.

He leads a Bible study with the men and helps them grow in their walk with the Lord. And once the men in his group graduate and move on, Andy continues to stay in contact with the men to encourage them.

For Andy, whether it’s ministering to the men in recovery or dropping off food, it’s ultimately about serving others in Christ’s name.

“The Bible says, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mind, you did for me’” Andy said. “And when I lay my head down at night, I can do so knowing that I was able to feed someone who was hungry.”

We certainly appreciate everything Andy does for the men we serve, and that is why he was our July Volunteer of the Month. Please join us in thanking him for his hard work, commitment, and faithfulness!

Note: Andy operates Manna from Heaven out of his own pocket; if you are interested in helping him, you can contact him at (901) 212-3029 or at caqicas777@yahoo.com.

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