Holiday donations of toys and food have declined in 2013

Officials stress there's still time to donate

Although there appears to be a mountain of toys for those in need, there is still an uphill climb in the final days before Christmas to make everyone's wish come true.

Scott Bedrosian with Metropolitan Ministries explained that they serve more than just Tampa.

"This only addresses a fraction of the need. We have over 5,000 families yet to serve in Tampa alone over the next week.  And that doesn't include another 1,000 families in Pinellas County, and another almost 1,000 families in Pasco County," he said.

Volunteers work to sort through the donations that have already come in. But this year, there's been a drop-off in both toys and food. "Our turkey donations are down 50 percent from last year, and that's a tremendous hit on us," Bedrosian said.

A moment later, as if on cue, a large cooler full of frozen turkeys were donated by a man in an SUV. Fred Burkhard rolled in with as many gifts for teenagers as his motorcycle could hold.

"It's never too late, never too late," Burkhard said.

"If every person that had enough gave just a little, we wouldn't be in the bind that we're in today," added Angela Provenzano of Carrollwood, who was dropping off a grocery cart full of food.

Donations for The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program in Manatee County are down nearly 50 percent compared to previous years. "This (empty) box represents an entire family where there are no gifts included," explained Christine Smith with the Salvation Army in Manatee County.  

Salvation Army officials say more than one thousand angels were returned with no toys attached.

"We're really in a position where we've had to contribute an extraordinary amount of funds to the program to ensure that the children who are registered have toys," Smith said.

The Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent is located at 400 W. Palm Ave. in Tampa if you'd like to donate. The tent is open Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m.-6:00p.m. You can also call (813) 209-1000.

The Salvation Army of Manatee County is located at 1204 14 St. W. in Bradenton. You can also reach Christine Smith at (941) 748-5110. Since the Angel Tree program gifts will be distributed to parents on Thursday, the Salvation Army of Manatee County is asking for monetary donations to help offset the costs of the gifts they purchased to ensure no child would be without on Christmas morning. 

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