Tampa police officers hand out 250 turkeys to needy families listen12/22/11 Janelle Irwin
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Many residents in Tampaâ€™s Sulphur Springs neighborhood canâ€™t afford a traditional Holiday celebration. Wednesday morning the Tampa Police Department made sure residents there will have food on the table and gifts under the tree for Christmas.
More than 250 families were given a turkey dinner, sides and desserts to enjoy this Holiday weekend. Wednesday marked the third and final day of what organizer and Tampa police officer Debbie Boles calls the Christmas marathon. Earlier this week children in the neighborhood were allowed to choose a gift for a loved one and three for themselves. Boles said the families received items they likely would not have been able to afford.
"We all hear about the economy picking up if you're reading the paper or watching the news. Well, the message of the economy picking up, it hasn't reached families hear in Sulphur Springs yet. So, our partners that partner with us here at the RICH House, we're really at the front line of poverty. All the families that we have been serving these three days all live at poverty and below poverty level."
The RICH house provides services for residents year round as well. Boles said the charity is often a last resort for the Sulphur Springs community. She added the focus is always on the children.
"We do an after school program here where they have to do homework first and if they don't have homework, well, they absolutely get my homework which usually includes reading. We work on other factors with the kids. Once homework is done, we're focusing on socialization issues, conflict resolution issue. You know, self esteem matters, all the basic building blocks to build them up to be strong, secure, productive adults."
The Tampa Police Department was able to support the three day initiative thanks they say to generous donors, churches and even large companies. Boles said while the RICH house serves the single community, they would never turn away someone looking for help.