ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Three Tampa Bay organizations are teaming up to bring holiday cheer to a record number of families. More than 4,500 families in Tampa Bay will have toys and a holiday meal to share thanks to Meals on Wheels, Metropolitan Ministries and the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger. The organizations organized Holidays on Wheels and were able to help a record number of homebound families this holiday season as the pandemic forces more people into a hunger crisis.
More than 300 volunteers spent the day Monday delivering meals right to the doorsteps of families in need. Tiffany, Xander and Zoe Crabtree were among the families who signed up to help volunteer.
“It’s so much more fun to give and to help others than sometimes it is to receive so I want my kids to begin to experience that at a young age,” explained Tiffany Crabtree.
“I was excited to be able to help other people,” her daughter Zoe chimed in. “So then other people can have stuff that they haven’t had before,” her son Xander added.
Elizabeth Ardeljan with the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger said she couldn’t complete her route without getting emotional.
“I just delivered to a house where the woman forgot that I was coming and when she opened the door and saw me with the boxes she started crying and said I couldn’t come at a better time. I don’t know what was going on in her life, but this will 100% change the Christmas spirit for her,” she said.
The Holidays on Wheels event is helping to show volunteers even as young as Zoe and Xander that when you give you get back a thousand times more.
"In Tampa Bay, thousands of kids and their families live in fear of going hungry this holiday season," said Caitlyn Peacock, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger. "Most of us look forward to enjoying a delicious meal during the holidays, yet many of our neighbors will not have food on their table. The Meals on Wheels for Kids’ Holidays On Wheels program, in partnership with Metropolitan Ministries, will ensure homebound and transportation-disadvantaged kids and their families have a healthy and happy holiday season."
The Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger leaders told ABC Action News they are always looking for volunteers and donations to help more families.