In the wee hours of a recent Saturday morning, hundreds lined up for the Joy of Giving. Every local elementary school was represented as well as Everglades City, volunteers from various organizations were at the ready, Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand, and Walmart employees were at their stations.
Nicki Davis, founder of the 501(c) 3 charity the Joy of Giving, gave final instructions to the volunteers. Her words included a reminder why we were all there, “for the children.” A few who know Nicki, know the rule of the day is no tears. Sort of an unwritten rule, a child’s tears are to be attended to immediately and when possible turned into a smile. The doors were opened, recipients checked in and the shopping began!
Once the doors opened, it took less than four hours for the culmination of many, many months of fundraising and organizing to be complete. From coordinating with schools, teachers, coaches and service clubs and organizations, a list of almost 1,200 children was compiled. Then the critical element, fundraising. Island Country Club works hand-in-hand with the Joy of Giving, not only as a major donor, but club members volunteer to man the registers and their truck filled with frozen turkeys! “The ICC members have been a huge part of the Joy of Giving for years. Just think of all the children they’ve provided for in that time! The Joy celebrated their 30th year in 2018. The Rotary Club of Marco Island has been a part of the Joy for many years, Liz Havens of Skin Renewal, Coldwell Banker, Marco Office Supply, Walmart and the Community Association Managers of Marco Island (CAMMI) are among our Christmas angels!” A newer participant this year was the Elizabeth Kay Galeana Foundation. When all is said and done, every cent goes directly to the kids. Not a penny goes toward administration costs, everything is donated. Right down to Bella Solutions that provides website support.
There weren’t tears among children this year. Parents, that is another story. One mother carefully calculated the best gifts she could get for her family, finished shopping, completed the scanning table and was directed to the cashier for check-out and told to pick-up a frozen turkey for Christmas dinner on her way out. Her hand went to her mouth, she was in tears. She was so touched others would give her family a Christmas when she was not be able to provide one. A couple others would have the same reaction including a grandmother who didn’t know what “The Joy” was all about until she accompanied her daughter and her daughter’s children. Who knew tears were contagious… she had all the volunteers in tears too. Same with another mother! The Joy of Giving allows us moments like this, and it is moments like this that keep everyone in the Joy coming back year after year.
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