“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give… It’s Christmas!” ~ Dale Evans Rogers
Christmas is a magical time of joy and wonder. For the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, it is a time of giving. The club is dedicated to improving our community by nurturing the lives of our youngest members – our children. The club recently celebrated the miracle of Christmas with over 700 students at Manatee Elementary School.
Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand with a full force of very spirited elves to make the day truly special. Santa personally presented each student with a gift that was carefully chosen just for them. But as hard working and energetic as he is, Santa confided to the Coastal Breeze News that he would not have been able to do all of this on his own without the help of the Kiwanis Club. “The members of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island worked with the staff at Manatee Elementary School to see that every one of the 758 students received a Christmas gift,” said Santa Claus. “Planning, under the direction of former Kiwanis President John Coff, started early in the year. Approximately $8,000 needed to be raised. Some funding came from large events such as the Seafood Festival, done in collaboration with the Rotary Clubs, and the annual Kiwanis Car Show, but a large part of the funds came from 50/50’s held at CJ’s and Stan’s. I thank the management of those establishments and the people of this community for their help as well,” Santa added.
Santa was especially grateful for an additional fundraiser that was held at Stonewalls. He said “Mrs. Claus and I arrived by firetruck at the Kiwanis Sing- Along Brunch. Tim and Kim Burke of Stonewalls put out a great spread, while we all enjoyed a cookie decorating contest and Christmas carols led by musical diva Rosetta Stone.”
Kiwanis President Kathleen Reynolds spoke of the club’s dedication to the children of this community. “Kiwanians know that Manatee Elementary has a poverty rate of above 90%. They know that this gift giving day brings joy, even for a short while, to families, many of whom are still suffering from Hurricane Irma’s punch. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to do this.” Reynolds added, “We also thank the Sail and Power Squadron for their decision over the past few years to forego a holiday gift exchange among themselves, and instead, to help us by purchasing some gifts for the students at Manatee.”
From Santa and Mrs. Claus, the elves, and all the Kiwanis volunteers, one message rang as clear as a Christmas bell. That is the sentiment that they will always remember the smiles and hugs from the students as each received his or her present. That is the greatest Christmas gift of all!
To learn more about the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, please visit www.kiwanisclubofmarcoisland.org.