Christmas is a joyous time of year. Yes, this writer is one of those irritating people on Facebook posting the number of Fridays left before Christmas, beginning in April, while maintaining the only way to be done decorating a tree by Christmas Eve is to start October 1st. Let’s not mention the Christmas song or two on the recently played iTunes playlist.
However, since Hurricane Irma, while everyone has been busy cleaning up and trying to return to a sense of normalcy, Christmas seems to have snuck up on us. We’ve heard it a million times, “We were lucky.” Many had insurance and got back on their feet, others had no damage to speak of. But don’t forget many in this area were NOT so lucky…
Hurricane aside, there are about 1,000 children in Collier County identified by teachers, social workers and coaches, as needy. Many will not have a Christmas this year without the generosity of others. How do we help these children? Fortunately, Marco Islanders are known for their generosity. If there is a cause to get behind, we come out en force to make an impact. The generosity that Marco is known for is needed now, by the JOY.
Almost three decades ago, Nicki Davis started a tradition. She was new to America and was feeling a bit down so she bought Christmas presents for a few families less fortunate than herself and handed them out. She found it fulfilling. She was determined to make this a tradition and each year her efforts grew. Friends joined in and then friends of friends. Others began to appreciate the impact of providing a Christmas experience for local families in need. A 501(c)(3) was formed for the Joy of Giving and the organization grew. This will be the 29th year Joy of Giving founder, Nicki Davis, has provided this Christmas experience to the many needy families in our county.
To make this charity work, the Joy of Giving needs the support and generosity of many people and businesses, like Walmart. Walmart opens their doors at 6 AM when about 350 families check-in and are told what amount they can spend on toys and gifts for the children under 18 in their family. The family shops for their children, they check-out at a register and before leaving the store they’re given a frozen turkey. Money doesn’t pass hands. The totals from the registers are calculated by Walmart and “The JOY” pays the balance through the money raised in donations from individuals, groups, businesses and organizations.
Reflecting on the last three decades, Nicki said, “I am very grateful. Every day I wake up and I am so thankful to be a citizen of America. I am proud to live in this amazing community surrounded by the generosity of so many people. After Irma left us with a mess, many families with the Joy of Giving were left devastated. We are calling on Marco’s amazing supporters of the JOY to help us reach our goal this year.”
Nicki wants to thank everyone, “literally there are hundreds of kind individuals that help us reach our goal every year. I want to thank long-time supporters such as Island Country Club’s Charitable Foundation for their amazing donation and their work on the shopping day to ensure children get age appropriate gifts, as well as giving a turkey to each family. We could not do this without them. I want to thank Ernie Borden and Autocraft for their amazing support each year. Much appreciation to the Condominium Managers of Marco Island and the Noontime Rotary Club for their incredible support. The teachers and volunteers helping out on that special shopping day, as well as Coldwell Banker for supplying postage and printing letters for The Joy of Giving and Marco Office Supply for their continued support from the start. And a big thank you to Skin Renewal Systems. There really are too many people that make the giving of Christmas joy possible to name them all!”
If you would like to donate to the Joy of Giving and provide Christmas to a needy family, send it to the Joy of Giving, P.O. Box 2302, Marco Island, FL 34146. Or, you can make a direct deposit at First Florida Integrity Bank.
100% of your donation will go directly to children in need. “Once you make a child happy at Christmas, one who might not have had the experience otherwise, once you see that smile or hear that Merry Christmas or Feliz Navidad, you’ll know why we’ve done this every year for the last three decades. These kids need us. Everyone associated with The Joy of Giving thanks you for your support.”