TAMPA, Fla. - The savory smells of Thanksgiving turkeys and the traditional side dishes were swirling around the Metropolitan Ministries kitchen as volunteers began cooking to feed thousands of families in Tampa Bay.
On Thanksgiving morning, the non-profit was up early to prepare those hot meals for those in need. Of course, there mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing – everything needed to make a Thanksgiving meal.
But preparation starts months out. At Metropolitan Ministries holiday tent, they have been collecting donations. It was really a whole community effort to provide the meals.
"We're really excited over 14,000 families were served through our holiday tent initiative over this past month in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties," explained Brensey Hurst. "The stories that we hear are amazing and sometimes heartbreaking. We literally have people who come into the tent and say, ‘Without you, we would not be able to have a Thanksgiving meal without you.’"
Volunteers are serving hot Thanksgiving meals at the following locations – both from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.:
Healing Hearts Café
6436 12th Street
Zephyrhills, FL 33542
The Portico Café
1001 N. Florida Ave
Tampa, FL 33602
Hurst said they are also focused on Christmas. She said they are taking donations, such as turkeys, hams and chickens, but their biggest needs are toys for children's gifts.
For more information on how to donate money, donation locations and hours, or sign up for the food assistance program, visit: www.metromin.org.