For 24 years Nicki Davis has said, “The Joy of Giving isn’t about me. It is about all the wonderful people and organizations that make a difference to so many children and families at Christmas time in Collier County.”From now until Dec. 15 she and volunteers hope to raise $80,000 to provide parents of underprivileged children a way to have a special family Christmas.
Some 950 children, of about 350 families, will arrive at Walmart on that day to select gifts with the money raised by the Joy of Giving organization.
Before then, Misty Sayah, a member of the Joy of Giving Board, has organized a list of qualified children, with the help of area schools and organizations.
"The process begins in September and hopefully we are done around Thanksgiving, but often the week before" she said. "We leave some space for last-minute, qualified children."
The school and organization representatives meet their children and families at Wall-Mart. Once the children have chosen their gifts they go to a scanning table where the gifts are checked to make sure the money is used appropriately. When approved, they then go to check out.
"The family never gets money, they get a card based on the number of children for their spending limit," Davis said. "We keep all the receipts and make exchanges if necessary."
On Dec. 15 there will be more than 100 volunteers, including an army of Island Country Club members. The club's foundation provides about half of the money each year, plus gives out some 350 turkeys to the families involved. The foundation has been a major part of Joy of Giving for 12 years.
"The Joy Of Giving would not be what it is today without the support from such generous members of the Island Country Club," Davis said.
Many of the Island Country Club members personally hand out the turkeys to the families at the event."
Wes Blackwell, chairman of the Island Country Club Charitable Foundation, once laughed when asked if his foundation was the gift that keeps on giving.
"There are so many kids that won't have a Christmas unless we get involved," he said. "Even more now with the way the economy is."
For those who would like to help make a difference there are options.n $25 provides a toy for one child.
n $60 provides clothing and shoes for one child.
n $85 provides a bicycle.
n $300 provides toys and clothing for a family of four children.
n $1,000 enables the Joy of Giving to serve many children who qualify, but have not yet been served.To make a donation, make checks payable to the Joy of Giving, Nicki Davis, 317 Nassau Court, Marco Island, FL 34145.