Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent: Hope Lives Here

One is seven Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless.

One in six Americans faces food insecurity.

Living in the comforts of suburbia, we often forget how many families struggle this time of year.  That one person could be your neighbor and you wouldn’t even know it.  As others struggle to put food on the table, we take for granted pantries full of food.

When the Tampa Bay Bloggers were presented with an opportunity to volunteer at Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent, I arrived with shopping bags full of food.  After trying to prepare meals for under $4, I eagerly gave several cans of organic items and healthy ingredients for guests shopping at the holiday tent.

Tampa Bay Bloggers

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

Like a well-known supermarket chain promising shopping to be a pleasure, the holiday tent offers a joyful, comfortable atmosphere as guests wait for their turn to fill their shopping carts.  A large play area entertains young children as their parents make their selections from the shelves.

The Buccaneers entertain children as their parents shop.

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

Steph Garcia of Orangespoken.com helps guests locate items.

For my role at the tent, I was assigned to help guests shop.  Based on the size of their family, the guests are given a modest shopping list.  As a shopping assistant, I helped the guests locate the items on the shelves, bagged their groceries and escorted them to the check-out to receive their Thanksgiving turkey.

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

Charley Belcher of Fox 13 assists shoppers.

For some, the bags of groceries brought tears of joy.  For others, it brought tears of sadness and desperation.  No matter what tears they cried, I comforted them with prayers and wished them a happy holiday.  The warms hugs and kind words were far more appreciated than the organic canned items and low in sugar cereals.

Note to self: When donating items to food banks, give non-perishable items like Green Giant, Stove Top, Betty Crocker and Swanson.  Even food secure families prefer name brands. Organic items aren’t very popular.  The recipients also want comfort foods like Kraft Mac and Cheese, instant mashed potatoes and sugary cereals, such as Froot Loops.  It might make your cringe to buy it and donate it, but you are making someone else really happy by giving them want they want.

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

Metropolitan Ministries estimates that over 20,000 Tampa Bay families will need assistance this holiday season with my corner of Tampa Bay having the greatest need as donations are down in my county.  After my working shift at Metropolitan Ministries, I wanted to do more than simply giving a few cans of food and helping guests shop.

As part of #givingTuesday Mom It Forward and Tampa Bay Bloggers initiative, I hosted a canned good drive to benefit Metropolitan Ministries.  An impromptu playdate at the park, a few moms and I collected 60 items to donate.

Like so many food banks and homeless shelters, the Metropolitan Ministries is struggling this season.  Please consider donating toys and canned goods at your local Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent drop off location.  To find a Metropolitan Ministries drop-off site near you, visit metromin.org.

Or consider, making a monetary donation to offer meals to those in need.  With your contribution, the Metropolitan Ministries can serve 589,686 meals this holiday season.

Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent

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