Metropolitan Ministries will begin accepting donations today to provide needy families traditional holiday meals to serve at home.
So far this year, the charity has received about 5,200 requests for help. That's about 20 percent more than last year.
Almost all of the families also will need presents and holiday food for Christmas.
A weak economy has left more people homeless and brought other families to the brink of losing their shelter, said Lesa Weikel, spokesperson for the ministry.
"The need is just tremendous this year," she said. "I know people have heard us say it before, but we can't do it without the community's help, and that is the absolute truth."
Here's the food the charity needs: hot and cold cereal, yams, gravy in a can or packet (no glass), cranberry sauce, potatoes and rice in a can or box, crackers, cookies, pastries, Jell-O or pudding, stuffing mix, canned vegetables, a box or bag of dry beans and turkeys.
Metropolitan Ministries also needs presents for children of all ages, but particularly for infants and teenagers. Financial donations to help homeless residents at the ministry also are needed.
Items may be brought to Metropolitan Ministries, at the 2100 block of North Florida Avenue, just north of downtown. To make a donation by phone, call (813) 209-1000.