FEATURED ON FOX13: Having a merry Christmas was a triumph for struggling families, thanks to Metropolitan Ministries

More than a hundred families got a warm place to stay, a warm meal and Christmas gifts on Christmas morning thanks to Metropolitan Ministries.

Shaheeda LaGrande and her four children were thrilled to wake up to presents under the tree, but for Shaheeda, the best gift was having them all together. It was something she had to sacrifice for six months at the beginning of this year.

“I was actually sleeping in my car and my kids were staying with their grandmother,” Shaheeda recalled “Six months without sleeping with your kids is really hard.”

Shaheeda contacted Metropolitan Ministries in June and was able to move into their Tampa Campus where she can work from her computer and be with her kids.

“They helped me., me and my kids, we were walking, we have a car now, we’ll have a place soon, it’s just a blessing, I think this is the best most meaningful Christmas so far,” she said.

Surrounded by almost 100 other families whom they’ve come to know and befriend, they enjoyed Metropolitan Ministries’ Christmas Day event that featured a hot meal, karaoke, games and even snow. While the largest celebration was at their Tampa location, similar celebrations were held in Pasco County and at SablePlace Affordable Housing community in Seffner.

With rising rent and the cost of everything, CEO and president Tim Marks says Metro Ministries saw an even greater need this year, and has been working around the clock since the beginning of the holidays to help families across the Bay Area.

“From November 1 to Christmas morning, it’s about 35,000 families,” Marks said. “Think about that, 35,000 families from Pine Island all the way up north of here to Hernando and all the way into Polk County.”

He stressed that it’s all thanks to the people in the communities who donated and came together to support one another.

“Being a single mom of four and survivor of domestic violence, it’s always been hard to be by myself,” LeGrande added. “So with Metro’s support I think that this year is truly the best.”