By 10am Friday, these two pallets of non-perishable food items had already been collected at the St. Pete Times Forum Box Office
Despite the conclusion of the NHL’s regular season and the absence of Rocket Richard Trophy winner Steven Stamkos on the ice in the playoffs, hundreds of Tampa Bay area residents lined up at the St. Pete Times Forum box office as if they were coming to see the 51-goal scorer himself. But on Friday, May 7, the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa Bay Storm and its fans rallied together to score a different, yet mutual, type of goal.
Beginning at 9 a.m., masses of fans gathered outside the arena to donate canned, non-perishable food items for charity in exchange for various incentives including complimentary and discounted ticket specials to a variety of upcoming events taking place at the St. Pete Times Forum this summer.
“It’s a terrific effort that’s going on here today,” Tampa resident Jessica Spanos said. “It’s great exposure for the Storm, it provides a fun opportunity to get the whole family involved in going to a game, and this is all made possible just by donating to a good cause. It benefits everyone.”
Friday’s effort served as just one of many more similar endeavors to take place throughout the summer, as part of the St. Pete Times Forum’s “Community Friendly Fridays,” an initiative to collect donations on behalf of Metropolitan Ministries and the philanthropic outlets it serves. Every other Friday from May until August, the St. Pete Times Forum will host a special community initiative in which donating patrons will receive a voucher redeemable for four tickets to a Tampa Bay Storm home game, in addition to being offered ticket discounts for other Times Forum events throughout the campaign.
Although donations were collected throughout the day until two hours prior to kickoff of the Storm’s matchup with the Jacksonville Sharks, two pallets of canned food items had already been received by noon, with many more in the hands of donors waiting to be received. Canned fruits and vegetables, boxed cereal, pasta sauce, rice, dry beans and powdered milk were amongst the most frequently donated items. Hygiene products and toiletry items were also accepted.
“It’s great not only for the fans who receive tickets and those in need who receive the donations, said Kathleen Finocchi, who also donated today. “But it’s also great because the Forum and the Storm are undertaking this initiative and they simply don’t have to. The fact that they are doing something like this, however, makes the experience even better. It’s really nice.”