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Helping Hands at Metropolitan Ministries

Posted Dec 21, 2013

Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano and his family lent their help Friday at Metropolitan Ministries, whose holiday tent has been serving more than 1,000 people in need per day during the holiday season

  • Head Coach Greg Schiano brought his family to Metropolitan Ministries on Friday to join in with the thousands of volunteers who have helped out this season
  • Metropolitan Ministries focuses on supporting individuals who are unemployed, people who are challenged by disabilities, and senior citizens
  • The holiday tent serves a thousand people a day during the holiday season
The holidays are a hectic time for many, with the pressures of shopping, traveling and coordinating family get-togethers sometimes adding stress to a season meant for reflection, spending time with loved ones, and giving thanks.  Add the demands of working a footballseason, and the pressure only increases for the likes of NFL players and coaches who commit countless hours of preparation to be tested on a national stage every week.

But for Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano, there's no better time than the holidays to commit oneself to supporting those in need.

“We’re incredibly blessed for what we get to do and the living we get to make,” said Schiano. “I think it’s what’s expected of us. Give back – that’s what the Lord’s put on us.”

On Friday afternoon, Schiano did just that, visiting Metropolitan Ministries with his wife Christy and their four children – Joey, John, Matt and Katie – to donate their time and efforts to help local underprivileged families.

“The holidays are a wonderful time of the year for our community, but for many that are living paycheck to paycheck or are unemployed or are on a fixed income or on some kind of disability, it can be a challenge,” said Metropolitan Ministries President and COO Tim Marks. “This whole holiday program that we run here in Tampa, as well as Pinellas and Pasco, is all about helping those families that are having a difficult time over the holidays. Help them with a nice Christmas meal, help them with toys for their children.”

Metropolitan Ministries is a nonprofit, non-denominational, faith-based organization that provides assistance for poor and homeless families. Serving migrant, urban and suburban communities throughout Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties, the charity focuses on supporting individuals who are unemployed, people who are challenged by disabilities, and senior citizens.

Schiano and his family visited the Ministries’ after-school program, where more than 40 young children were busy making Christmas cards for their parents. Spending the better part of an hour with the young, energetic crowd, the family then traveled down the street to the Ministries' large holiday tent to support one of the Bay Area’s most impactful community initiatives.

-- The Schiano family visited the Ministries' after-school program before helping out in the holiday tent
Metropolitan Ministries' holiday tent – a nearly 35,000 square-foot temporary facility erected two blocks from the nonprofit organization's main campus – has served nearly 1,000 families each day this holiday season, at just the Hillsborough location alone. Having recently developed a new complex on its main campus, complete with on-site housing for more than 100 homeless families, this year's holiday tent has been relocated to 400 W. Palm Ave., just down the street from its familiar home in years past.

“When you’re a head coach, there’s a lot of good things to get involved with, and you have to kind of be selective with what really touches your heart and your family’s heart,” said Schiano. “We connected with Metropolitan Ministries, and I just think the way they help families – we’re all about family – the way they help families get back on their feet is just tremendous.”

Earlier this year, local families registered for the Ministries’ holiday program, a full-service operation that annually kicks off before Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas Eve, providing participants with hearty meals, toys for the family and support from volunteers eager to help those battling unfortunate circumstances.

On Friday, the Schiano family joined in the cause, sorting the shelves with toys that would soon find new homes, wheeling grocery baskets full of canned goods, and helping community members locate the right fixings for their upcoming holiday meals.

“For these 12 days of Christmas that we’ve been doing this distribution program, we’ve had 5,800 volunteer slots and every one of those was filled,” added Marks. “Our clients receive these commodities – food and toys – but we think they get much more than that. We think they get hope because they see this community love them back.”

Added Schiano: “The Tampa community has really gotten behind this cause, and I think it’s a worthy one.”

To learn how you can still help this holiday season, visit www.metromin.org.