'My kids actually got Christmas' - FOX 13 News

'My kids actually got Christmas'

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Christmas morning should be magical for children. Metropolitan Ministries makes sure of that for hundreds of Tampa Bay Area families that don't have a lot.

Mother Juanita Latimore says she couldn't have given her girls the Christmas they deserved, without help.

"My kids actually got Christmas," said Latimore through tears. "Because I was unable to give it to them."

Metro Ministries' army of staff members and volunteers started early Christmas morning. They delivered a truckload of beautifully-wrapped gifts to families staying at the charity's shelter in downtown Tampa.

Life is tough for these kids. They don't get many days like this.

"Having this special day, just means the world to them. To have something that's just like normal, just like everyone else has in their homes," said David Bledsoe, Metropolitan Ministries Associate Director of Community Relations.

The gifts are donated throughout the year. All of the children got to wake up Christmas morning to that one special present they've been dreaming of and more.

"We get wish lists and we try to find people to help fulfill a special wish on every child's list," explained volunteer Christine Gwilt.

Metropolitan Ministries invited their families and others to Christmas dinner in their holiday tent. It's a traditional, hot meal for those barely making it through the holiday season.

"I think the ham was the best because it had pineapple on it," said John Shannon, who enjoyed the meal.

The charity's staff and volunteers served the big meal.

"This is a nice thing for them to have a special day and people like me to make them feel special and wait on them and serve them, rather than them feeling like they don't have anybody that cares about them," said volunteer Irene Guy.

Metro Ministries was able to help a record number of people this year. They've been serving people in the Bay Area for 40 years, and they accept donations throughout the year.

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