Ryan Nece (left) and Ellis Wyms helped create a party atmosphere Tuesday at Metropolitan Ministries
It's the classic birthday dream of the Bay area elementary school student: a Tampa Bay Buccaneer shows up at your party. Heck, it could be your friend's birthday party, as long as you're there.
On Tuesday, 50 elementary schools students from Metropolitan Ministries had the opportunity to celebrate a birthday with a pair of Buccaneers, LB Ryan Nece and DE Ellis Wyms. This wasn't Johnny or Jenny's birthday party, however. This celebration was for the Metropolitan Ministries Family Care Center, which opened exactly 16 years ago. The 50 kids enjoying themselves Tuesday afternoon currently live and attend school at the Care Center.
Metropolitan Ministries is a temporary care facility to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in the Bay Area community. The organization provides services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency.
Tuesday's birthday party for the Care Center kicked off with Raggedy Ann reading Raggedy Ann & the Birthday Surprise to the assembled students. Then Nece, sporting a jaunty, yellow party hat, and Wyms, wearing a red masquerade mask, rolled out a giant birthday cake. As the children stared raptly at the giant birthday cake, Nece, Wyms and Raggedy Ann led the group in a rendition of the Happy Birthday song.
After the singing, the cake was cut and drinks were served, allowing the Buccaneers to mix with the kids and staff members of Metropolitan Ministries.
"It's just the best to see the kids faces light up and the excitement in their fun and their play," said Morris Hintzman, President of Metropolitan Ministries. "The kids that we work with are going through some very difficult times, but to be able to have the Buccaneers come in and show them a good time and have some fun, it's a breath of fresh air for these kids."
Cake devoured and countless cups of punch drained, the kids were ready to get on with the party. There were stations set up to decorate party hats, masks and gift bags, color birthday signs, play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey or pin-the-nose-on-the-clown...more than enough to keep everyone busy.
Nece and Wyms chose to man the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and the pin-the-nose-on-the-clown stations, where they were able to present all the participants with gold medals to reward them for their efforts.
Truth be told, not much effort was needed to succeed at pinning on tails and noses, as the blindfolds used were not particularly opaque, but it was still a good time for all involved.
"I had a great time with the kids," said Nece, smiling. "A little pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. They were pretty good. They were real crafty."
As the party wore on, Nece and Wyms took the time to take pictures and sign autographs for the kids.
"We came out here today to be able to give back to these kids," said Wyms. "We had a great time. It's always nice to get out and see a bunch of kids. They're always entertaining and always fun."
As all parties do, this one eventually had to come to an end, but not before good times were shared and memories were made.
"It means a lot to me to be able to support the community," said Nece. "These are the people that support you and this is a true honor and a blessing to be able to give back and share your time. It's something I love to do and it's good for the team and the community."
For more information on Metropolitan Ministries, please call (813) 209-1059 or visit www.metropolitanministries.org.