As Metropolitan Ministries geared up for one of its most important weeks of the year, the McCoy family – including No. 93's father, children, siblings, and extended family members – rallied together by visiting the impactful nonprofit organization in Tampa to surprise more than 50 teenagers with gifts and serve a warm meal to hundreds of individuals for the holidays.
"We're not blessed the way we are to be selfish," said McCoy. "We're blessed the way we are so we can bless others. God's given not just me, but my entire family, a heart to give back. I get more out of this than these kids do, and it's always awesome to be able to do this."
To kick off the evening, the McCoy family assisted Metropolitan Ministries' staff in serving dinner to hundreds of individuals eager for a hearty meal. For over an hour, Gerald and his family greeted more 300 children and parents – and also helped serve a tasty dessert – as two large sessions of families enjoyed a catered meal purchased by the McCoys. The feast, which filled the room with smiles and joy, including chicken breast and carved beef, garlic smashed potatoes, a salad, and a seasonal vegetable medley.
"You'd be surprised just how many people look for a nice meal or different type of meal," said McCoy. "To have a really great cooked meal, it can be hard to come by. You'd be surprised how far that goes, especially for 300 people – that's a lot of people. I'm glad we were able to do that."
Following the feast, the McCoys gathered together more than 50 teenagers who live at Metropolitan Ministries to reveal a set of surprises. First, Gerald presented Metropolitan Ministries with two brand new 50-inch televisions, two video game systems, and three new desktop computers for the charity's teenagers to enjoy for years to come.
"With about 50 teens on our campus, we need a place where kids can just be kids, and address the problems they've been through, help them on the education front, and also find time to have fun," said Metropolitan Ministries President Tim Marks. "It's a safe place where our kids can gather and be a little community. That's awesome, but you saw what happened when they found out they were going to get something too, and its things their families could never afford for them."
The second surprise: individual gifts from each teen's wish list, including a new tablet, iPod, headphones, or portable speaker.
"We asked them if they got one thing for Christmas, what would it be?" said McCoy. "And we were able to fulfill their wish list."
Overall, McCoy's donation for the evening totaled nearly $20,000.
"I remember when Gerald came here four years ago with the rookie class and he sat in this very room on a little stool – it was Thanksgiving time – and he put a little turkey headdress on," recalled Marks. "I thought, 'Well, there's a special guy,' because he's just a kid at heart. Here he is coming back, because he remembers the kids that are here. Its Christmas time and these children are in a homeless facility. It's better than their previous situation, but it's still not the best, and we want the best for these kids and Gerald wants the best for these kids. He brought the best for these kids – he brought himself. He brought love, he brought inspiration, and the gifts that he brought were over the top – something these children will never forget."
Metropolitan Ministries is a nonprofit, nondenominational, faith-based organization that provides assistance for poor and homeless families throughout the Tampa Bay area. Founded in 1972, the organization offers a wide spectrum of supportive services to alleviate suffering, promote human dignity and instill self-sufficiency.
"So many people in our community are struggling," said Marks. "Seventy percent of the people that go to sleep on our campus are children, and the teens just represent one segment of those that are homeless here at Metropolitan Ministries. But that's not their lot in life. Their lot in life is much better. We talk a lot about that word 'hope' – they got hope today from Gerald McCoy."