Santa makes early stop in Bradenton, hands out presents, food to families in need

For families in need in the Bradenton Area, Santa touched down a little early to make sure kids and parents alike had a Christmas to remember. Downtown Ministries hosted its usual Saturday morning breakfast in the parking lot of Southside Baptist Church, but this Saturday's breakfast had a little extra Christmas cheer. 

"A lot of these kids are doing without a lot of stuff, a lot of the material things. They're just excited to be like every other kid today," said Christine Monroe-Loomes, the executive director of Downtown Ministries. 

With a little help from Santa, Downtown Ministries was able to bring Christmas cheer to dozens of families in need. 

"Every holiday is important. I think when you're homeless or struggling, you don't get to celebrate the holidays like everyone else," said Monroe-Loomes.

Saturday morning, a hot breakfast was ready and waiting. However, for the kids, they had their sights set on the toys waiting for them.

"I got putty and he got an RC Car," said 6-year-old Daniel.

Each child got to pick out a new toy, and this year, everyone earned a spot on the nice list. 

"It was exciting because I really wanted one of these!" exclaimed 10-year-old Serena. 

Even the parents didn't go home empty-handed. 

"Each family gets a meal that will feed four to six people on Christmas Day. There are a couple of hams in there, some mashed potatoes, some stuffing," explained Monroe-Loomes.

For many families, that Christmas meal made all the difference. 

"It means everything right now. It's been super tough, so it means everything," said Sara Ferri, a recipient of the food.

During a year like 2020, it's the little things that mean the most, especially when it comes in the form of Christmas cheer. 

More information on Downtown Ministries can be found here

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