Tampa Bay Lightning players Nate Thompson and Ryan Malone take time out from accepting holiday food donations to visit with volunteers. (photo by Clark Brooks)
Metropolitan Ministries has been providing nutritious meals and holiday gifts for poor, homeless and at-risk families in the Tampa Bay area for over 20 years. Their goal this year is to serve more than 25,000 families. The Lightning frequently partners with the organization in their efforts to serve the community, hosting food drives at games and getting players involved with generating publicity.
"This is an easy decision to come help out and see all the hard work everybody does here. It's amazing what an impact this has on families that need help. It's the least we can to come out and be a part of it. It's great when you realize how many families it really does help. Just bringing one turkey makes a difference." - Ryan Malone
"It's an honor to participate in something like this. You look around and see all the young kids here and the people that need help with the way things are going. You just see everyone stepping up, donating stuff every day and you want to get involved. You see all these cars pulling in and they're donating 40 and 50 turkeys. It's a lot of fun to be part of." - Brett Clark
Clark seemed particularly motivated in his involvement with the task at hand, wheeling carts loaded with donated items and even paying attention to detail in making sure the necessary paperwork was completed properly.
"Brett's a farm boy, he's used to hauling stuff off of trucks. Obviously, this kind of hard work comes naturally to him."- Ryan Malone
There are a variety of ways people can get involved. Metropolitan Ministries has multiple drop off locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Grocery items like turkeys, hot or cold cereals, canned fruit, vegetables and cranberry sauce, dry goods like rice, beans, bread, gravy mixes and cookies are among the items needed. There is a particular shortage of canned yams this year. Clothing and toys are needed too. Also, $10 cash donations can be made by texting "METRO" to 20222. A complete list of items needed as well as other information is available at Answer Their Prayers.org.
Metropolitan Ministries is located at 2100 N. Florida Avenue in Tampa