The Joy of Giving has been around for a few years. “Each year we get better and better. We learn something new with each event. This year was marvelous because everything was like clockwork thanks to the volunteers,” said Joy founder, Nicki Davis. In fact, many of the individuals, organizations and teachers have worked the Joy of Giving for several years.
People like Misty Sayeh play a pivotal role in the organization. Or, behind-the-scene volunteers like Debbie Shade and Val Simon. Ernie Borden not only volunteers, but is known for being a fundraiser extraordinaire. Al Diaz, with daughter Alexandra, and Linda Keutmann, Melissa Scott and Amber Prange-Richardson, too. “It’s hard to name everyone, there are so many people that step up each year and this could not be what it is without the help of many people! I don’t want to leave anyone out, but a huge thank you to everyone for all they do to make this a success.”
Island Country Club Charitable Foundation is also instrumental to the Joy of Giving and has been for a long time. “The Joy would not be what it is today without them. Not only are they a major sponsor of the Joy of Giving, making all of this possible, but they come en force on the day of the Joy. The ladies come willing and able to man the registers while the men hand out frozen turkeys to each family as they leave Walmart. Their contribution to the Joy of Giving has been immeasurable!”
Other companies and organizations, such as Skin Renewal or the Community Association Managers, donate substantially. It is necessary to meet demand, this year the Joy identified nearly 1,000 children in Collier County in need. A specific dollar amount is allocated for each child based on the total contribution raised with 100% going directly to the program. The family checks in and is told what they can spend on their children. Once a family is identified, every child in the family under the age of 18 is accounted for. They shop as any parent would, items in their cart are pre-scanned to be sure they’re close to their amount allocated. Then they check out at a register and when they leave they’re given a free frozen turkey, also compliments of Island Country Club.
No money changes hands. As a 501(c) 3 charitable organization, the totals are tallied at the registers and paid from the Joy of Giving directly to Walmart. “Gone are the days of one hour waits at the register! Walmart and its employees have streamlined this entire process. Everyone does a great job working together,” Nicki commented.
According to one long-time volunteer, “There is nothing like a little child looking up at you and wishing YOU a Merry Christmas or saying Feliz Navidad.”
Children and parents alike are grateful for the assistance. “We want each family to be treated with dignity. It is a key part of the process.
We have no idea the struggles these families may have. One such parent was in tears as she left the store. We make a connection with many people and that is affirmed each year through the smiles of the children and on occasion, the tears of joy from parents.”