WWE Global Ambassador Titus O’Neil, along with his Bullard Family Foundation (BFF), have partnered with Metropolitan Ministries again this holiday season to provide food boxes for more than 40,000 families and toys to more than 50,000 children. The collaboration culminates on Dec. 18, 2021, with the Joy of Giving parade around the Thaddeus M. Bullard at Sligh Middle Magnet School neighborhood, followed by a celebration for families that includes a winter display titled “Titus Wonderland.”
The annual Joy of Giving event, which was held at Sligh in 2019, returns after a break due to the pandemic. The partnership between BFF and Metropolitan Ministries was inspired by two desires: to make transformational change around the 33610 area where BFF has focused much of its resources and efforts, and to be joy and hope to more families throughout six counties across the Tampa Bay region.
To make a regional impact and reach 40,000 families, BFF joined Metropolitan Ministries to help with their annual Holiday Tent, which provides food, toys, and services to families in a unique and uplifting setting.
In a continuation of their multi-county effort, FIVE pre-selected deserving family from Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties will each receive a car from BFF to enable work transportation. These families will be surprised with their new automobiles during the Joy of Giving event.
And to continue the focused impact around Thaddeus M. Bullard at Sligh Middle Magnet School, a Gasparilla-style parade featuring Krewe floats will once again kick off the Joy of Giving celebration, which will benefit students and their families from Sligh, Foster Elementary, James Elementary, and Carter G. Woodson.
The parade is powered by WWE and Love, Tito’s. It will feature Gasparilla Krewe floats, marching bands, and corporate partners. Retired Major Rocky Ratliff, who spent three decades with the Tampa Police department, will serve as Grand Marshal.
The celebration includes free food and entertainment and unwrapped presents for students and their siblings from Sligh, Foster, James, and Woodson. The gifting of the cars will take place during the event.
New this year will be a complete transformation of the gym: families will get to stroll through a winter wonderland complete with scenes from the elves’ toy factory, snowman and family, and winter villages. Called “Titus Wonderland,” the extravaganza is free for families to enjoy, as is the entire event.
The celebration runs from 9:01a.m. – 1:01 p.m. The event’s “01” start and end times represents O’Neil’s commitment to unifying people and organizations as one to make a positive change in the community.
“The pandemic created even greater need across our community and I can’t think of a better way to answer that call during this holiday season than through our Joy of Giving event.” O’Neil said. “To see the joy on the faces of these families as they watch Gasparilla floats drive past their homes in East Tampa brings tears to our eyes. And to be able to see the delight in the eyes of the parents as they pick out toys for their kids fills our hearts with love. That’s what this season is all about.”
The two organizations have been working together for the past three years, said Tim Marks, President and CEO of Metropolitan Ministries, which has resulted in a greater impact across the region.
“Metropolitan Ministries appreciates the leadership of Titus O’Neil and the Bullard Family Foundation to bring transformational change to the Sligh community as well support the InspireHope initiative to reach out and distribute support to struggling families in six counties throughout Tampa Bay,” Marks said.
Joy of Giving highlights:
- A continued partnership with the Hillsborough County School District to connect families in our most struggling communities to the event allows BFF to identify families with the greatest need.
- The parade begins at 9:01 a.m. in front of Foster Elementary School. It runs east on E. Diana Street, north on 22nd Street, west on Sligh Avenue and ends at Thaddeus M. Bullard at Sligh Middle Magnet School.
- Five pre-selected families will be gifted cars from Fuccillo Automotive Group, Hyundai of New Port Richey, Ferman, Elder Ford of Tampa, and Stingray Chevrolet. The families do not know they will be recipients of the cars.
About the Joy of Giving
Inspired by the late Pastor Greg Powe, Sr., Joy of Giving was started in 2009 as a way to spread joy to all children in our most struggling communities. With Pastor Powe’s blessing, Thaddeus Bullard, aka WWE Global Ambassador Titus O’Neil, grew the event to what it is today: a movement to inspire companies to give back to their communities; an effort to connect families with important nonprofit support services; and a gift-giving celebration that provides moments that change lives.