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Gifts of giving rapidly giving out

A charity is in dire need of more donations of food, clothes and toys to meet a high demand.

By REBECCA CATALANELLO
Published December 23, 2005


TAMPA - With only two days to go until Christmas, Metropolitan Ministries says it is running low on toys, turkeys and stocking stuffers for the area's neediest children and families.

"Right now, we don't have enough for today," spokeswoman Tracy Clouser said. "But we definitely don't have enough to get through the weekend."

Though the mission has been providing donated toys and food to the area's poor since Dec. 15, there are still 1,400 families and 2,000 children left to be served.

The organization is seeking new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children of all ages, especially teens and infants. Donors also are asked to provide "Boxes of Joy" - two new unwrapped toys and three stocking stuffers - for children in need.

Metropolitan Ministries also is passing out "Boxes of Hope," which include all the ingredients for a holiday meal, including a turkey or a gift certificate for a turkey, as well as other staple food items to help provide families with meals for two to three days.

Clouser said that in her seven years with the ministry, she has never seen a shortage so close to the holidays. In the past, donations may have been sluggish in the early part of the drive, but it is worrisome that the mission is running low the day before Christmas Eve, she said.

Then again, the rolls of people in need are longer than ever. The mission is expected to serve more than 12,000 families, about 500 more than last year, Clouser said, attributing the increase to high gas prices, high consumer prices and a dearth of affordable housing in the Tampa Bay area.

Donations can be dropped off at either: Metropolitan Ministries Main Holiday Center, 2100 block of N Florida Ave., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; or St. James United Methodist Church, 16202 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in New Tampa, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today or 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Financial donations are accepted, with $30 buying a Box of Joy and $33 a Box of Hope. For more ideas on gifts, visit www.metromin.org or call 813 209-1000.

[Last modified December 23, 2005, 01:12:07]


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