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
“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.