“I think this Spirit of the Holidays is one of the best we’ve ever had,” Fran Myers, chair of the board of the Beach Kids Foundation, said, praising the efforts of the Spirit Committee and other volunteers. “We helped out more kids this year than we ever had before. Not only that, but the community showed even more spirit and giving in order to give these kids a great Christmas. The people have been so generous.”
“It could never be done without the community supporting all of this,” Judy Haataja said. “Fort Myers Beach is such a special community in being able to come together like this.”
It was a busy December for the Foundation, who kicked the month off with their annual auction, raising over $20 thousand this year for the families referred to them by the local school district. They followed this up with another annual tradition on December 12th, their pancake breakfast at the Red Coconut RV Park.
Their final flurry of activity was this past Sunday, December 20th, when scores of Beach residents arrived at the Red Coconut’s clubhouse in order to wrap the presents for all the kids. With a list so long this year, the pace was breakneck, but in the end the task was accomplished thanks to the generosity of the community.
By Monday, sacks of gifts and rows of bicycles filled the clubhouse, ready for delivery where they would be put into the homes of hundreds of beach kids
In addition to residents lending a hand in order to help raise money, donate presents and wrap gifts, the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District also plays a pivotal role in this annual holiday event. Not only do they help out in the various fundraisers leading up to the delivery of gifts, they also provide Santa Claus with his “sleigh” when he arrives at the Beach.
Santa and his elves get to go to the doors of the children on the list in one of the District’s fire engines that they donate for this special evening’s use, allowing Old Saint Nick to hand deliver toys to the boys and girls who are the focus of all of this energy and effort.
“We do what we can to give back to this community, especially for the kids,” Shaun Jensen of the District said. “It puts a lot of smiles on their faces when they see Santa come around.”
By Trent Townsend