Charities struggle to keep up with need

Keeping the holidays shining bright is what Meals On Wheels Plus of Manatee County is working to do.  But this year, they need extra help spreading the holiday cheer. 

"The number of clients before covid was 600. As a result of covid we are well over 900 clients right now," said Maribeth Phillips. 

Phillps is the President and CEO of Meals On Wheels of Manatee County.  She said they're trying to fill a thousand shoeboxes by Saturday.  The gifts will then be delivered to homebound seniors along with their meals. 

"We will have many of these clients who will spend the holidays be themselves, so this shoebox is just a  little bit of joy, a little bit of celebration of the holidays that will really bring a smile to them," said Phillips. 

They ask that each box is gift wrapped, marked for a male or female and filled with items like playing cards, calendars, socks, books and toiletries. 

"This shoebox filled with basic items is most likely the only thing some of our senior clients will receive during the holidays," said Phillips. 

The Salvation Army of Manatee County faces a similar situation.  Their Angel Tree program had to go virtual, with physical trees mainly in public libraries. 

"So many of the locations that had trees for us in years past, don’t have trees," said Kelly French. 

Kelly French with the Salvation Army said they have 1700 angels that are hoping for gifts.  They range in age from newborns to 12 year old children.

Only one-third of their tags have been fulfilled. So, many boxes for children remain empty. 

"All of the tags are out there in the community, but they are coming back very slowly. We are anticipating putting another 300 or possible 400 angels on our website on Friday that people can adopt online," said Phillips. 

These charities say their in desperate need this year, in bringing a bit of joy to the community. 

"It'll make their Christmas bright, because we know the rest of the year has been so challenging," said French. 

For more information on the Melas on Wheels Plus Shoe Box visit:
Meals on Wheels Plus Shoe Box Collection & Drive-Thru will be held on Saturday, December 5th from 4 p.m to 6 p.m at the LWR Elks Lodge. That's at 4602 Lena Road, Bradenton. 

To adopt an angel with the Manatee County Salvation Army click here.