Robles Park becomes dinner spot for many still without power

- After several days without power following Hurricane Irma, residents in the Robles Park neighborhood of Tampa were treated to healthy, hot meals on Wednesday.

Metropolitan Ministries providing 500 meals to individuals and families awaiting restoration of their power. Mayor Bob Buckhorn called the organization the day of the event asking if they could help out.

"We have a great staff at Metropolitan Ministries. They all pitched in, and in two hours, we made 500 high-quality lunches," said Tim Marks of Metropolitan Ministries.

"I know people are hot and they're tired. They want to get the A/C on, they want their refrigerator on, so we're just here to try and help fill that gap," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Several community organizations and more than 60 volunteers came together to hand out fruit, non-perishable snacks, and plates of chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers.

Dianne Hart, CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association, has been organizing neighborhood meal distributions all week in low-income communities.

"I've never known real hunger, and I hate to think that there are children here who are hungry. That's basically what a little boy said to me yesterday. He said, 'I'm hungry,' and my heart was bleeding," said Hart.

She called on friends, like retired Tampa Police officer Orlando Gudes, to help gather food donations. Gudes and his brother donated and grilled food for residents on Wednesday.

"I patrolled this community as a police officer. I'm retired now, so I know the people. I know the need. I know that we had to come out here and serve the public," said Gudes.

Residents said they are grateful to have the support of their community as they wait for their power to return.

"Thank God we've got a community to help us.We're dealing with it, but we just pray every day that they cut our lights on," said WillieMae Black.

Hart said she plans to serve food on Thursday in the neighborhoods of Belmont Heights, Columbus Court and Robles Park. She said she intends to continue serving daily meals until residents have electricity again.

To contact Hart, visit etbcatampa.org.

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