This just in from Metropolitan Ministries:
Metropolitan Ministries is part of a disturbing new trend among local nonprofits - record low donations that threaten its ability to serve thousands of struggling Bay-area families in need of food and toys for Christmas.
The Ministries is asking for the community to take immediate action and make a donation of food, toys or funds to ensure that every registered family will receive assistance this holiday.
The first indicator came at the end of November when Metropolitan Ministries faced a budget shortfall of almost $140,000 and 100,000 pounds of food. The Ministries’ dedicated supporters donated more than 9,000 toys, but these generous gifts still represent less than 50 percent of the 20,000 toys the organization had collected at this time last year.
Metropolitan Ministries is now sounding the alarm to all of its faithful drive partners, donors and volunteers – as well as the community at large – to help meet this critical need before Christmas.
“We have just barely gotten through the first three days of our Christmas distribution this past weekend with our resources on hand,” said Metropolitan Ministries President Tim Marks. “It is only when our community comes together and shares its blessings with its neighbors in need that we are able to meet the tremendous need. The Ministries is committed to serving every family who has registered for assistance, and now is the time we are all needed to help make a difference for thousands of families and children who need hope this holiday season.”
The items in greatest demand include frozen turkeys, canned fruit, cereal, yams, infant and teen toys, and gift cards. Donations can be made every day at Metropolitan Ministries’ new holiday tent location at 400 West Palm Avenue in Tampa. The tent is open Mondays through Sundays, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Online donations can also be made at the Ministries’ website, www.metromin.org.
The Holiday Central section of the site includes additional donor information, including donation sites and times in Pasco and Pinellas counties.
While registration has ended for their holiday assistance program, Metropolitan Ministries’ Outreach center continues to provide a full array of crisis intervention services including emergency food, clothing, shelter, counseling, and education services for individuals and families in crisis. In addition to its holiday assistance program, the Ministries will serve a hot meal on Christmas Day, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., at the holiday tent site. This meal is free and open to all neighbors in need.
Tampa is home to the country’s highest rate of homelessness, with 17,755 homeless residents in Hillsborough County alone. More than 50 percent of them are experiencing homelessness for the first time, and the fastest growing segment of this population is children. Metropolitan Ministries serves more than 45,000 homeless and struggling families in Tampa’s four-county area each year, providing housing, food, clothing, counseling, child care, employment services and many other types of assistance. MiraclePlace, the Ministries’ new housing facility, will double the number of homeless families it can shelter and provide services for each year.