A child receiving a toy from last year’s Christmas of Hope event.

Spreading some holiday cheer might look slightly different this year for some families. Lighthouse Gospel Mission and its ministry, Operation Hope of Florida, strives to bring smiles through assistance of a toy drive and much more.

All of the toys donated will be distributed during the annual Christmas of Hope event, which is free to the community, on Friday, December 18 at the Lighthouse Gospel Mission in Riverview at 6 p.m.

Lighthouse Gospel Mission Development Manager Joelle Allen shared her input about the toy drive.

“We are trying to collect the toys for children ages 2 to 10 and make sure their Christmas is blessed,” Allen said.

Operation Hope of Florida is a food ministry that distributes more than 2.4 million pounds per year to families in need. It serves 2,105,497 people annually.

During Christmas of Hope, attendees will receive a hot meal, a food box and toys for kids. The overall goal of this toy drive is to fulfill the mission through the love of Jesus to serve those who are hungry, hurt and addicted in communities within its four avenues of ministry.

Since Lighthouse Gospel Mission’s establishment on December 12, 1952 by J.A. Lennard, it has continued providing an impact on the lives of thousands all across the Tampa Bay area.

Lennard started the mission as an encouragement to the homeless in downtown Tampa by offering them a hot meal and clothing. Due to the growth of Lighthouse Gospel Mission’s ministry, it later relocated to its current spot.

“Overall, we want others to know that we are here trying to make a difference within the surrounding community,” Allen said.

Those interested in contributing can drop off the toys Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Lighthouse Remnant Thrift Store. The deadline to donate is on Friday, December 11.

For more information, visit www.lighthousegospelmission.org or check out its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/lighthousegospelmission. It is located at 7211 S. 78th St. in Riverview. Call 677-5220.

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