Tampa Bay Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula signed autographs at the AMALIE Arena in late December in exchange for toy donations, which were donated to Metropolitan Ministries to give toys to children in need.
Each fan who brought a new, unwrapped toy to the arena was able to take a picture with Filppula or get his autograph. Metropolitan Ministries runs an annual toy drive and had an “urgent need” in December, and Filppula’s help garnered a huge swell of extra support right before Christmas.
Metropolitan Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit in the Tampa area that has served poor and homeless Tampa Bay families since 1972. The organization provides resources including food, housing, and childcare, as well as offering life skills classes and other resources, helping hundreds of people every day.
In 2013 the Ministries gave toys to more than 19,000 children and provided assistance to 22,000 families. They also host food drives, providing meals to more than 1.5 million people, and they’ll even do the shopping for you if you donate a gift card.
Filppula, a Finnish player for Tampa Bay’s hockey team, joined the Lightning in 2013, before which he played for the Detroit Red Wings for eight years and helped the team win a Stanley Cup in 2008. This season Filppula has totaled 24 points, including 6 goals and 18 assists, across 34 games.