Toy donations pour in after local charity shares photo of empty shelves

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Earlier this week, Metropolitan Ministries was scrambling to find toys for Bay area boys and girls in need. The nonprofit assists thousands of families every holiday season, but this year, they were running low on toys–the shelves in their holiday tents were almost empty.

But after sharing a photo of the empty shelves, truckloads of toys arrived Thursday.

Sheila Williams is raising five grandchildren and doesn’t have extra money for gifts this year. But the recent uptick in donations has made Christmas possible for her family, which otherwise wouldn’t have it.

“This is like a blessing to me. Times get really hard,” said Sheila Williams. “The struggle is very hard. Sometimes I can hardly pay rent so it’s real hard for me at times.”

“It makes them so happy just to see the gifts that they get, they be real happy and it makes me happy,” said Williams.

Feld Entertainment, the Palmetto-based production company responsible for Ringling Bros. and Disney On Ice donated more than 2,000 toys.

“It’s very special because you don’t want any child to go without this holiday season. It is very important, it warms your heart, it makes you feel good,” said Melissa Hartline, the company’s communication director.

“I was once a kid and you have to have a toy, you have to have a bike! We have a lot of men that meet and donate the time and buy toys and everything so we will fill the shelves,” said another donor Dicky Moss.

Metropolitan Ministries said they could not donate all these toys without the help of the community.

“Now, because the community is rallying and supporting, this strong Tampa Bay community is answering our call and bringing gifts every single day, it’s a beautiful sight,” said Ariel Gibbs.

The organization plans to help 11,000 families this Christmas.

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