MetroMin hopes for much-needed toy donations

- Metropolitan Ministries' toy inventory is at an all-time low and CEO Tim Marks said Monday he's hoping "Giving Tuesday" will help kickstart the toy drive.

According to Marks, the organization only has about 300 toys to give away at its holiday tent but there are nearly 13,000 children who need help.

"Right now it is an urgent need," Marks said. "We're talking about children here. We're talking about giving them a smile and taking some pressure off these families that have been impacted by [Hurricane] Irma, that are paycheck to paycheck, that are struggling."

There's an extra incentive to donate on "Giving Tuesday," which is November 28th: an anonymous donor has pledged to match every gift that comes into the holiday tent, so the donations that day will be doubled.

Marks said the organization isn't asking for much and distribution begins December 14th, so time is running out.

"We're just talking about a modest toy of 25 dollars or less for a child that's an infant up to a teen," he said.

Down the street, at Metropolitan Ministries Outreach Center, Theresa Shabazz's daughter was registering for holiday assistance.

"We didn't know what we were going to do for Christmas. We didn't know what the boys were going to have for Christmas. So the fact that they're going to be able to wake up in the morning and open presents, that'll be a lot," she said, adding her family was hit hard by the hurricane. "When Hurricane Irma hit, a lot of our stuff got destroyed and we hadn't gotten any help or anything."

Shabazz said her family's problems were made worse when her daughter lost her job days before Thanksgiving.

"Losing that income and [with] only my income, we couldn't afford to have Christmas," she said.

The organization's toy inventory is just one of the issues Metropolitan Ministries is currently facing.

Marks told FOX 13 food donations are down 15 percent from last year, November donations are down 20 percent and total monetary donations are at the lowest level since 2005.

Shabazz hopes things change.

"There's a lot of people who need help and they have no one to turn to and the Metropolitan Ministries is helping where other places isn't helping," she said.

Metro Ministries' holiday tent on North Governor Street in Tampa is extending its hours on Giving Tuesday from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. People can also donate at drop-off locations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties or donations can be made online.

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