TAMPA, Fla. - Easter this year looks a lot different, however, Metropolitan Ministries' staff put in countless hours of work to ensure Sunday was still a day of hope for the community.
"It's always a blessing, it's always a blessing to serve those in need especially on Easter. We're doing it in a different way, but we're still doing it,” said Cliff Barsi, a chef with Metropolitan Ministries.
Some changes did have to be made to keep people healthy. No volunteers were allowed in the kitchen, and unfortunately, no big Easter buffet like in years past.
"We're feeding the same amount of people, we're just doing it in a different way,” Barsi explained. “We want to make sure our staff are safe and the clients we're serving are safe.”
Distribution sites also switched to ‘grab & go’ meals to prevent people from congregating.
"Normally we're providing meals inside at a buffet line,” said Vicki Walker with Hyde Park United Methodist Church, one of the locations where Metro Ministries provided meals. “We have over 200 guests most Sundays. They're invited to sit and linger over a cup of coffee. Here, it's literally grab and go.”
Back on campus, the seats inside the chapel remained empty.
"Our spiritual team here on campus actually prerecorded an Easter service earlier in the week,” said Justine Burke with Metropolitan Ministries.
Despite the changes, it's still Easter, and Metro wanted to make sure the excitement and meaning of the day wasn't overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We had a couple of donors come and donate the funds so that we could go buy Easter baskets and all the typical things that go inside an Easter basket for a child,” said Burke.
Metro Ministries continues to remind the community that even in the darkest of times, there's still hope.
"We're going to be here for our clients, they need us now more than ever, and that's why it's so important to bring joy in little moments,” said Burke.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map