In the final days before Christmas, as many people put the finishing touches on their holiday shopping, decor, and feast plans, some families still worry that they won’t be able to put gifts beneath the tree and seasonal meals on the table. Some in fact are choosing between the two, and thousands more are asking for help for the first time. Yet even this late in the season, Hernando help agencies are striving to ensure that every family in their service area has a merry Christmas.
People Helping People
People Helping People, whose “mission is to end hunger in Hernando County by breaking the cycle of poverty among the people served,” has taken on a special feeding project for the holidays–one set to benefit an entire community. “Today we spoke to a local community about helping them get some turkeys and hams for Christmas so we could use some cash donations to help us with that,” said Becky Burton, Executive Director of People Helping People in Hernando County, Inc. “It’s a subsidized housing community in Brooksville. We’ve agreed to help them with hams and turkeys and Holiday dinners by purchasing Publix gift cards. If anyone wants to donate towards that or purchase gift cards (doesn’t have to be Publix) we will give them to these families so they can enjoy a holiday meal without deciding whether to purchase food or gifts for their children.” To donate to “People Helping People,” visit https://phphernando.org/donations. For more information, call (352) 686-4466 or write [email protected].
The Arc Nature Coast
The Arc Nature Coast, which provides essential services and support for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in our community, is striving to brighten the holidays of clients in need. “We have a handful of residents that no longer have a family to provide gifts,” explained Nancy Stubbs, Development Director of The Arc Nature Coast. “If anyone wants to get items for a resident, they can contact me directly and I can provide a list of suggested items, sizes, interests, etc.” To donate gifts to young Arc clients in need of holiday gifts, contact Nancy Stubbs at (352) 263-0461 or [email protected]
Joseph’s House Brooksville
Joseph’s House Brooksville is a Christ-centered ministry serving Hernando County that provides “food and essentials to those going through difficult times and partner with other local ministries and organizations to provide faith, hope, love, and compassion to those in need.” (http://jhbv.org/)
“The need is so great,” said Cynthia Waddy, Joseph’s House. “We’re taking any donations.”
With the winter weather growing colder, Joseph’s House is helping its homeless and impoverished clients with donations of blankets, towels, hand sanitizer, coats and jackets, tents, warm clothes, and pajamas.
“I get nervous when there’s a cold snap,” said Waddy. “The people we serve need these things to keep warm.”
Joseph’s House is also accepting gift donations of bikes, dolls, and other play items, to provide holiday presents for needy children.
All donations can be delivered to 823 Josephine Street, Brooksville, or for more information call 352-600-8295 or Email [email protected]
Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church: Soup & Showers Program
Andy Black at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which provides a Soup and Showers program for homeless people and philanthropic services for people in need, needs a variety of donations at this time.
“For those who come in for showers, we need fresh changes of underwear and socks,” said Black. “We also need donations of T-shirts, jeans, and socks.”
Black says that people also have approached the church requesting dolls and toys for their children. And, of course, food is always welcome. All donations can be delivered to the church at 200 Mt. Fair Ave., Brooksville.
“Sometimes people will make meals at home and bring them in,” said Black. “If anyone donates anything, we can turn it into something people can use.”
Metropolitan Ministries, an independent nonprofit has “provided services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity, and instill self-sufficiency for at-risk and homeless families in Tampa Bay since 1972.” And this year, Metropolitan Ministries has extended its service area to include Hernando County.
This year also marks the most challenging that this time-honored Tampa Bay charity has faced.
“Food and toy donations are urgently needed for the largest holiday tent outreach effort ever,” read a related news release. “In addition to the unprecedented 20,000 Thanksgiving food boxes distributed last month, an even larger outreach begins…at Metropolitan Ministries. As many as 30,000 more families in need have already preregistered for Christmas assistance. They are counting on Metropolitan Ministries to make Christmas happen, and without help, most will go without. Metropolitan Ministries is calling on the community once again for food and toy donations to help make Christmas special for those who are hurting.”
And this year, the news release reveals, the number of those hurting is overwhelming. “Last year 26,000 families received assistance for Thanksgiving and Christmas through Metropolitan Ministries, while this year will be close to 50,000 families in total,” it read. “The pandemic has brought the largest need Metropolitan Ministries has faced in its 48-year history.”
In terms of direct COVID-19 relief, Metropolitan Ministries has provided $4.55 million in food and financial relief since the pandemic began and 56,576 emergency food boxes. The charity is expected to spend at least $2 million more over the next six months. They supplied 20,000 additional food boxes for Thanksgiving and purchased $1 million in food last month–four times what was spent during last year’s entire holiday season. The amount of $250,000 was spent on toys, and 7,000 turkeys and 6,000 hams were purchased. “(We are) forecasting the need will be five times more by Christmas,” read the news release. “100,000 toys are needed.”
Distribution to those in need began Friday, December 11, and runs through Thursday, December 24. The main holiday tent is open for donations Mon.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., and Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Here’s how to help:
Tampa Holiday Tent
2609 N Rome Ave, Tampa, FL 33607
West Pasco Holiday Tent at Metropolitan Ministries’ campus
3214 US-19, Holiday, FL 34691
See additional donation drop-off locations, contact www.metromin.org/holidaycentral