The line of cars at United Way Suncoast’s Sulphur Springs Neighborhood Resource Center arrived early on Nov. 12. They showed up to receive all the makings of a Thanksgiving meal.
But they really came to receive hope.
Many choose to show gratitude to loved ones while enjoying a marvelous dinner on Thanksgiving, but for families living paycheck to paycheck, the holidays can seem like a burden. The added financial pressure to make a large meal can amplify the stress of caring for loved ones. United Way Suncoast and strategic community partners like Metropolitan Ministries work together to decrease the burden and add warmth to holiday celebrations with pop-up meal distributions.
As the gates opened and the cars pulled up, volunteers moved into action, filling trunks with boxes of food. Every turkey and every ham came with smiles and well-wishes. The families, more than 300, expressed their gratitude by honking their horns. At least this Thanksgiving, hope would replace anxiety. A similar scene played out on Nov. 14 at United Way Suncoast’s North Greenwood Neighborhood Resource Center in Clearwater, with 460 families receiving meals. Volunteers from Allstate’s Tampa Westshore office helped shepherd the distribution.
The organizations plan a third distribution for the Campbell Park Neighborhood Resource Center on Nov. 21. In total more than 1,100 families will take advantage of the distribution.
Each resource center will have a similar food distribution event to spark hope for the December holidays. Recipients must register with Metropolitan Ministries. This is the third year United Way Suncoast and MetMin have partnered together. Last February, MetMin recognized UWS’ Dr. Jeffery Johnson and Paula Kay for their instrumental work in distributing meals in 2021.
In Sarasota, All Faiths Food Bank also helps deliver the sense of joy and normalcy that comes from a holiday meal. With some community members still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Ian, All Faiths and United Way Suncoast worked together to distribute 100 turkeys to nine of our Quality Childcare Initiative centers. Those receiving the Thanksgiving staple couldn’t help but share their appreciation.
“We are so grateful to have these turkeys,” said one recipient. “We were recently hit hard because of Hurricane Ian and didn’t know what we would do this holiday.”