Food banks struggle to prepare for holidays after Hurricane Irma, volunteers and donations needed

TAMPA BAY, Fla. - It’s been more than a month since Hurricane Irma but the Bay Area is still feeling its impact. For the past several days, we’ve seen lines filled with people, some as long as a mile, waiting for help to get back on their feet.

The “Food for Florida” program helps families who lost food that spoiled due to power outages during the hurricane. The Salvation Army and Metropolitan Ministries are also watching these scenes. They say it’s an early indication of an incredible need for help this holiday season.

Tim Marks, President and CEO at Metropolitan Ministries says, “We need your help now more than ever. We’re starting with the smallest inventory of food and toys than we’ve ever had before. We expect the need to be great.”

They’re putting up the holiday tent to collect donations now but they’re already a few weeks behind because of the storm. They’re hard pressed for not only food and toy donations but also volunteers. Lt. Colonel Gary Haupt says It’s the same story over at the Salvation Army of St. Petersburg. Haupt tells us, “A family that's already living paycheck to paycheck only has to miss a few days of work to  be greatly impacted. So those families may need, not only help at Christmas but help just to make it through to the next paycheck.”

The Salvation Army is a few weeks away from the start of its Red Kettle campaign and now more than ever, really needs your help.

“We're urging you when you see those red kettles put something significant in there, thinking about those families that have been impacted during the storm season and carrying that into the holiday season as well”, Haupt says.

Marks says his team is getting ready now, “last year we served about 17,000 families. This year we're planning for 18,000. we are preparing to go over that number if we find the need is even greater than  what we expected. We want to help everybody, we don't want to turn anybody away.”

If you’re interested in volunteering at Metropolitan Ministries go to metromin.org
 

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