And how, or rather ho ho ho and barrels of food, gifts, grace, compassion and love.
Once Again, the ministries, social agencies and just simply good people of Tampa came out by the thousands to provide for the downtown homeless and needy during the Christmas season.
There was Thanksmas, a now six-year old tradition started by Tampa Bay Rays coach, Joe Maddon when he had the idea to prepare a huge meal – not really seasonal – of spaghetti and meatballs, sausages and pierogies, with the help of Rays employees, then set about shopping for, cooking and distributing and serving the meals to homeless shelters in the Tampa Bay area.
The idea worked, much to the joy and delight of his many satisfied diners, and the donations have soared which have helped to make this an annual – and welcome – delight.
Then there’s the Metropolitan Ministries huge holiday tent, from which thousands of families and individuals are fed and gifted every year with everything from boxes of whole holiday dinners, groceries, toys, clothing and, oh yeah…bikes for the kids, and colminating with a Christmas lunch put on under the tent on Christmas day.
The Metropolitan Ministry holiday effort has become a community-wide event aided by thousands of volunteers and donors and local media, and celebrities, and they provide food and clothing and other aid throughout the year through their outreach program, as well as being the residence of many families and singles year round.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church put on their holiday dinner on the Friday night before Christmas with a feast of ham and veggies and desserts and gifts for the attendees.
United Methodist Church of Hyde Park complimented their usual excellent Sunday breakfast for the homeless and needy with the usual good cheer and all around fun and music with generous gift cards from Walmart donated by a family in their congregation for every one of the more than two-hundred people who attended.
Trinity Cafe, where famed chef Albert Astl – who could make a gourmet meal of cans of Vienna sausages – served up a Christmas dinner of broiled sirloin, potatoes, veggies and red velvet cheesecake, accompanied by singing servers.
Primo’s Deli Cafe did their usual holiday gig by serving bags and bags of huge deli sandwiches and chips and side dishes and clothing to the homeless on a bright and sunny afternoon just before the big day.
There are too many events and dinners to list here, but you get the picture.
And in addition to all of the organized events, good people – some alone, some who had rounded up neighbors and friends – cooked up a storm, and delivered the food to Gaslight Square Park, along with sleeping bags, jackets, socks and the occasional gourmet cheese and sausage trays, along with many who slipped ten and twenty-dollar bills into envelopes and passed them out to homeless and needy people all around downtown Tampa.
Yes sir, Tampers did themselves proud again this holiday season – and actually all year round – by displaying their love and compassion and grace, and let us not forget, patience.
Good on ya’ all.