As a local, independent nonprofit, Metropolitan Ministries has provided services that, according to an agency news release, “alleviate suffering, promote dignity, and instill self-sufficiency for at-risk and homeless families in Tampa Bay since 1972.” And in the wake of a global pandemic, the agency that provides food, housing, and other basic necessities for clients in need found themselves in need, facing the grave fear that they would be unable to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in their service area, which as of this year includes Hernando County. The agency that has helped so many themselves put out a call for help. And the community responded.
“Tampa Bay community comes through with a massive outpouring of generosity,” read the headline of a Nov. 24 Metropolitan Ministries news release. “Metropolitan Ministries will be able to help a record number of families in need for Thanksgiving and then attempt to do even more for Christmas,” the release continued. “The need is overwhelming, but so is the compassion and generosity of our Tampa Bay community. Thanksgiving will happen this year for 20,000 families who are struggling in the pandemic. We asked the community to join us in spreading hope to as many people as possible, and they are delivering. That’s the real power of the holiday assistance campaign provided by Metropolitan Ministries…people from all walks of life working together.”
Thanks to an unprecedented outpouring of public support, 20,000 Thanksgiving food boxes were distributed through Metropolitan’s holiday tents, and about 9,000 hot meals were distributed last week–a sharp increase from the 6,000 originally anticipated. “The response was incredible,” said Justine Burke, Metropolitan Ministries Vice President of Marketing, CFRE. “We were facing our biggest need ever. Through their acts of generosity, the community made it possible.”
Yet for all the rays of sunshine that the public has bestowed upon Metropolitan, in the form of donations, contributions and volunteer service hours, many more will be needed for the duration of the holiday season. “Next week, the nonprofit will kick-off the most challenging Christmas assistance program ever. As many as 30,000 more families will seek help with food and toys,” read the news release. “Those who struggled for Thanksgiving will still be struggling for Christmas. The Ministries asks the community to continue to support the #SpeadHope campaign so that no one is left behind this holiday season.”
“We’re not done yet,” said Burke. “As the need extends to Christmas, we’re still on the go.” The most needed items on the Metropolitan Ministries donation list include turkeys, hams, yams, and cereal. The Ministries will need a contribution of thousands of turkeys and 100,000 toys to provide for all clients throughout the Christmas season. “We want to provide two toys apiece for each child,” said Burke.
Beyond toys, Burke says that many gift items are needed for teens. “Gifts for kids aged 13-17 are hardest to come by,” said Burke. “We always welcome gift cards, from Walmart and other stores and Amazon, and also donations of sports clothes and hats, gear and balls, jewelry, hair and makeup accessories, skateboards, etc.”
In extending their giving services to Hernando County, Metropolitan Ministries based in Tampa and Holiday, has partnered with area churches to reach and address the needs of local residents. By volunteering to partner with Metropolitan Ministries, these churches, True Holiness Church in Brooksville and Church of God Crown of Life in Spring Hill, are able to actively identify Hernando residents in need of aid; also serving as a pickup location for those people, to receive vital food, clothes and gift items for the holidays. “We have to do what we can do,” said Sonia Dillard, True Holiness Church. “We are signed up to help many families and are open to more.”
To this end, Dillard is reaching out to charity organizations that serve Hernando, like Mid Florida Community Services and Hope Youth Ranch, in an effort to identify residents in need. Families who wish to request Metropolitan’s help through this church can call (352) 279-8313. “Our church does everything we can to open a door and bless families in need,” said Dillard. “This is our first collaboration. In these times, we want to spread Metropolitan’s help to Hernando.”
Also engaging in a first-time collaboration with Metropolitan Ministries is Spring Hill’s Church of God Crown of Life, also known as Corona De Vida. “It feels wonderful to be a part of such a great cause,” said Eneida Acevedo, church spokesperson. “To help others.”
In identifying Hernando residents in need of aid and serving as a distribution spot for those who register with Metropolitan Ministries, Acevedo’s mission is simple. “We want to bring a little joy.”
Neither of Metropolitan’s Hernando partners are currently able to accept donations on behalf of the charity. Yet those who wish to donate and/or volunteer at Metropolitan Ministries can visit www.metromin.org/holidaycentral.
#SpreadHope. And spread Sunshine.