Tampa, Florida -- The shelves are a little emptier than normal at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent, which provides toys and food to families in need. This year, the organization runs the risk of having to turn away hundreds of families.
That's because the organization is reporting a record low level of food donations, along with 50 percent fewer toys than last year. Couple that with a budget shortage and an increasing amount of families asking for help, and Metropolitan Ministries hopes something can be done to avoid turning people away.
"We've been overwhelmed by the number of families who have already registered and there's hundreds more that want to register, but we just don't have the toys or the food," says CEO Morris Hintzman. "There's no need creating false hope. We hope we can serve all of them, but it depends on the community."
Ann Isler-Korbaj is among the 15,000 families that will be able to receive donations from Metropolitan Ministries this year. On Tuesday, she got help from volunteers as she shopped for presents and food for her four grandchildren.
"This is awesome. This is the best present in the world," she says. "It makes your spirit bright because it's just nice to see everyone kind and willing to give."
And without the Holiday Tent, Isler-Korbaj says she'd have no other way immediately available to help her family. She hopes others in need will be able to provide for their kids, too.
Time is running out, but you still have a chance to give. The Holiday Tent is open Christmas Eve from 9 am to 6 pm if you want to make a last-minute donation.
They're trying to collect turkeys, canned fruit, cereal, yams and toys for teens and infants.
The address for the Holiday Tent is: 400 West Palm Avenue, Tampa FL 33602