Monday, October 26, 2020

30 Years of Giving Joy


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During a few short hours, on one day a year, over a thousand children are provided the makings necessary for a great Christmas holiday. It starts well before sunrise at our local Walmart store when parents begin to line up. Dozens of volunteers for the Joy of Giving prepare with lists, calculators, and smiles. They join Walmart employees who’ve prepped merchandise and filled shelves specifically for the event; price scanners are at the ready. Once in the store, carts are filled, a quick visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and soon the cash registers begin to clink and chime. On their way out the door, they’re given the primary ingredient for a fine Christmas meal, a frozen turkey. All this of this giving happens within just a few hours and then is done, until the next year!

What you don’t see in this “small slice” of a typical Joy of Giving day is the months of preparation, fundraising and organizational behind-the-scenes work that takes place long before “the day.” It starts with contacting every teacher and coach in the county they possibly can to help identify where the need is the greatest.

The second task, which takes the most effort, is the fundraising. It is the MOST important piece of the puzzle. A financial goal is set based on the number of children to be accommodated for a particular year. In recent years, that number has been 1,100 children.

None of this could be done without the financial support of the Island Country Club Charitable Foundation. The Foundation members volunteer to work the registers, they assist with check out and they bring an entire truck filled with frozen turkeys to be sure each family not only has gifts, but they can make a traditional Christmas dinner as well; all of this in addition to donating financially. The Foundation is a major supporter of the Joy of Giving and all its good deeds.

This is the 30th Anniversary of the Joy of Giving. Fittingly, diamonds are symbolic of a thirtieth anniversary. Nicki Davis started out one Christmas feeling a bit down, being lonely as a new resident in the United States missing Christmas back home. She decided to buy a few presents for a family that needed some Christmas cheer. Never could she have imagined 30 years later that that Christmas “giving” would become tradition and account for hundreds of families each season being touched by that giving Christmas spirit. The effort has been polished and refined each year and now operates, through the help of Walmart, their employees and the dozens of Joy of Giving volunteers, like clockwork. “We couldn’t do what we do without our partners like Ernie Borden, Skin Renewal Systems, First Florida Integrity Bank, Marco Office Supply, Absolute Performance and Bella Business Solutions.”

The 501(c)(3) charity has seen a lot of changes over those years, and unfortunately, the need has not lessened. Can you imagine the tens of thousands of children who have experienced the joy of Christmas thanks to the Joy of Giving?

Now is the time to donate. The Joy of Giving “day” will be held in early December. With your generous donation, children will receive self-esteem, hope and love as they share tales of new shoes, clothes and toys because Santa came to their house too! Rest assured, 100% of every donation goes directly to the children. This event is truly a rewarding day for all as the flurry of volunteers work with parents to provide a magical holiday complete with a turkey dinner for the entire family. Go to www.JOGchildren.org and complete your donation today.

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