By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Another 950 children were able to celebrate Christmas thanks to all those who contributed to the Joy of Giving. Year after year, this non-profit charity has provided the less fortunate families of Collier County with the means to provide a real holiday experience for their children.
The children and their siblings are identified through teachers and after school youth organizations. “Major sponsors include Island Country Club and Walmart, but there are so many groups that contribute, I wish I could name them all,” said Nicki Davis, founder of the Joy of Giving. The Island Country Club not only helped raise funds through various events this past year, but also provided volunteers the day of the event. Other contributing organizations included the Rotary Clubs, Upon a Star Foundation, and Marco Riders, just to name a few. Funds are gathered, the families identified, and then Walmart opens its doors extra early to allow the families to shop.
On December 15, families started lining up while it was still dark out. Volunteers streamed in, arriving to man the check-in desks, scanning tables and registers. As families checked in, they were given a specified dollar amount based on the number of children in the family and then were free to shop. Their items were pre-scanned before check-out, so they knew how close they were to their total spending amount. Each family checked out and received a turkey before they left. The turkeys were an additional contribution made by the Island Country Club, which it does annually for the Joy of Giving. “Walmart has been a tremendous help. Each year they open their doors to us and even provide extra personnel. They have streamlined the entire process,” said Nicki Davis. Even Santa Claus stops in to greet the families. This year, families were able to spend about $85 per child. The amount fluctuates each year based on the total amount raised and how many children there are. “We want each child to get something they would like, something that makes the holiday special for them, but often, that includes socks, sneakers, or clothing. One group came through this year with toothbrushes for each member of the family, as well as games and toys.
“I couldn’t do this without all the help of people like Misty Mixon, she has been there since the beginning, helping with everything. Kelly McGuire is here accounting for each dollar contributed and spent.” Nicki mentioned others involved with the Joy of Giving. “It went very smoothly. It just gets better every year.” Nicki has already started to think about next year’s Joy of Giving!