Metropolitan Ministries Sees Significant Drop in Donations listen11/25/09 Kate Bradshaw
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Each Thanksgiving, Metropolitan Ministries distributes Thanksgiving food packages to thousands of Tampa Bay residents in need. This year, amid the throes of the worst financial crisis in recent history, theyâ€™re seeing more dire need than ever exacerbated by a major drop in donations.
As volunteers sort through boxes of spaghetti, stuffing and Jell-O, the line outside the Metropolitan Ministries food distribution center on Florida Avenue is strikingly long. People wait for what the nonprofit calls â€œBoxes of Hope,â€ filled with Thanksgiving meal essentials including a turkey.
Ashley Steadman, a new mother, is one of those waiting. Steadman says that making ends meet is a struggle. She says that if it werenâ€™t for Metropolitan Ministries, there would be no Thanksgiving for her family.
Steadmanâ€™s family is one of about 7,000 Tampa families receiving the centerâ€™s Thanksgiving food donations this year. Metropolitan Ministries Public Relations Coordinator Ana Mendez says that in the past year the center has seen the number of people in need increase by 23 percent. At the same time, she says, food donations have been cut in half.
Mendez says that 5,000 people have signed up for assistance this year alone, and that food donations are going out the door nearly as fast as theyâ€™re coming in. With the staggering number of people in need Mendez says itâ€™s hard to keep up this holiday season.
Isabel, another client of the center, says that for the first time she is doing the cooking this year. She says that just getting by, let alone being able to putting on a lavish Thanksgiving spread, is nearly impossible in a time when jobs that pay a living wage are scarce.
High school student Nick Rivera has been volunteering with Metropolitan Ministries since the second grade. He calls the spike in need shocking and says that the Ministry needs all the help it can get.
Mendez says that there is still time to volunteer for this yearâ€™s Christmas food distribution, and that the center needs food donations. Those interested in helping, or in need of some assistance this holiday season can find Metropolitan Ministries locations throughout the Tampa Bay area.
If youâ€™re interested in lending a hand, you can find Metropolitan Ministries on the Web, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can also call the center at (813) 209-1000.