What started as a group of friends helping the community has turned into a movement in Pasco County.

Bright HOPES (https://www.facebook.com/BrightHopesPasco/) is a local outreach group. The goal is to not only help the homeless population of Pasco County, but to share love and kindness in the community.

Friends Krista Cox and Melissa Cohee started by hitting the streets and handing out hot meals to the homeless. What started as two friends ballooned into a 200+ private Facebook group, pooling together resources and helping out.

“It started a year ago when we saw the need to just spread kindness and be nice and reach the streets,” Krista Cox said.

John Leatherberry holds a cupcake given to him by Bright HOPES. (Amy Mariani, staff)

On Wednesday, a few groups of people hit the streets around western Pasco to hand-deliver homemade cupcakes. Fourteen bakers prepared about 300 sweet treats. Each cupcake was individually wrapped in Valentine’s-themed decorations. Some even had positive affirmations, like "You matter" and "God loves you."

Jeannie Montgomery received a cupcake and one for her daughter – though the 2-month-old is too young to eat it. This isn’t the first act of kindness Montgomery has received from the group.

“This blanket was actually given to me by them,” she said, referring to her baby's fleece blanket.

Montgomery is touched by their dedication, but also their message of love and compassion.

“It makes me feel really happy knowing somebody out there really cares,” she said. “I would actually say I love them, they’re like big sisters to me.”

Her feelings are echoed by Jaime Patterson, who’s been homeless for the past year.

“It means a lot because when you ain’t got no food and you’re hungry and you’re cold, it’s cool that people actually care enough to help out,” Patterson said.

Cohee said the people they help, in turn, help her.

“They touch us every week,” Cohee said. “These people have changed their lives.”

Cox hopes to grow her organization – to help the homeless, but to also spread love in her community.

“We want to grow,” she said. “We want to take people in and share the kindness and share the love and just be human.”

Last year, Bright HOPES delivered more than 3,500 hot meals. Last month, the group tied jackets and scarves around trees and poles for cold people to take. Next month, they plan on partnering with the VFW to help veterans.