Toy shortage at Metropolitan Ministries puts Christmas at risk for Tampa Bay area families

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Eleven thousand Tampa Bay area families rely on Metropolitan Ministries to make Christmas possible. Right now, the ministry has a huge toy shortage and without a donation, Christmas won’t happen for thousands of families.

“Families come to us at their wits end a lot of times. We see families who have been trying to make it for months but just weren’t able to get there,” said Ariel Gibbs with Metropolitan Ministries.

The organization is a safe place for thousands of families. They provide food and gifts for families going through some of their darkest times.

“So this person right here was diagnosed with cancer. This person lost their job, this person was evicted, this person is struggling with children who are sick,” said Gibbs.

The need is great but the donations haven’t been enough to stock the shelves this holiday season.

“It’s a thing that you put under the tree but to someone who has literally nothing or hasn’t had a gift in so long or can’t even imagine putting a gift under the tree it is everything,” said Gibbs.

This year the organization is seeing more families than ever before who need the help.

“Because of the hurricanes that came through our area this past summer, a lot of people are experiencing more people in their households. They’ve had to provide food and shelter and now they don’t know how to put gifts under the tree,” said Gibbs.

Usually, Metropolitan Ministries bridges that gap but right now they can’t.

“I know that Tampa Bay is a strong, caring community and together we will fill these shelves,” said Gibbs.

Families will be stopping by from now until Christmas Eve to get gifts. If you would like to donate, check donation locations on provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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