TAMPA, Fla. - Thanksgiving is coming, and this time, it's Metro Ministries that is in need. The organization says the need for bilingual volunteers has exploded.
Paula Curbelo is already aboard and spent Friday afternoon loading groceries and turkeys into cars for families in need of help, some of which only spoke Spanish.
"This is a great experience for me and for my son," Curbelo said. "I teach him we are available to help at any time."
She is one of 600 volunteers at the Metro Ministries Tampa distribution tent helping to make sure over 40,000 families, including Richard Bermudez and his kids, have what they need for the holidays.
"Some people are afraid to come here because they think that there is nobody to help them because of the language," Curbelo said of Bermudez, who was relieved to find Paula was on-hand to help.
Metro Ministries says it needs 500 bilingual volunteers across its 12 Tampa Bay locations.
"We have seen this phenomenon grow, year after year, the need for more Spanish speakers," said Metro Ministries CEO Tim Marks.
He says the financial pressure on working families has only grown since the pandemic began. Now, with rising gas and food prices, Metro Ministries is expecting an ever-more diverse population to register for help.
"As we get ready for Christmas season, we will be providing toys. We want to make sure we have a good interaction so we can pull the toys that they want for their children," said Marks. "It is about hospitality and dignity for our Spanish-speaking community."
And with child poverty at between 30 and 50% in Tampa Bay, Metro Ministries says the work to put together 1,500 boxes of food every day has never been more urgent.
Whether one is offering ayuda or help, a little of it goes a long way.
"I can't describe what I feel today," said Curbelo. "It was my first time helping people. It is great to know a lot of people are going to have a great dinner."
To volunteer, visit http://metromin.org/holiday-central/volunteer.