We just hosted our second annual “Holiday in Holiday” gift giving event where we invited a number of local charities, shelters and missions to come and receive pallets of brand new toys, clothes, games, educational products and more for the children they serve right here in the Tampa Bay community. To put it simply, it was absolutely spectacular!
There were pastries and coffee for everyone and our staff all decked themselves out in some fine, festive holiday hats to accentuate the holiday atmosphere, the volunteers from the local Wal-Mart Store #4669 were all ready to get toys packed into trucks…it was great. The most wonderful sight of all, however, were the pallets of toys and the wonderful children’s bicycles all packed and waiting for the right facility to claim them.
As the trucks from the facilities started to arrive, the Wal-Mart volunteers and our staff kicked into high gear to get everything going. I can honestly say that I have never seen such an amazing display of concentrated efficiency as exhibited by the joint effort of our warehouse crew and the awesome volunteers from Wal-Mart #4669. As soon as our guys brought a pallet of full boxes over to a waiting truck, the volunteers immediately unwrapped it and formed a pair of lines to hand the boxes into the truck to their guys waiting in there. Each pallet was packed securely in under 10 minutes. Incredible!
While their pallets were being packed, the facility representatives took the time to talk to us and thank us for the toys and gifts. They also delighted in telling us where the gifts were going to and who would be receiving them.
“With the economy so tight this year, we were stressed out about how we were going to reach out to families,” said Angi Magoulis of the Cavalry Chapel Worship Center. “When your organization called me, I started crying. It came at a perfect time. I was running down the hallways saying, ‘YES!’ We are completely blessed by you guys. We’re going to be able to, instead of give each child a toy, we’re going to be able to give need families a Christmas, so we’re very excited. You guys are a blessing and we appreciate you so much. Thank you.”
Karen Higgins of the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children (PARC) – an organization we reached out to last year as well – was excited to be back again this year:
“We have such a wonderful relationship with Kids Wish Network; we couldn’t wait to come and say thank you in person. Over 300 children have benefitted, including adults with developmental disabilities, from the wonderful gifts and donations. We can’t thank you enough.”
Even our volunteers were grateful to be a part of the event!
According to Laura of Wal-Mart store #4669, “I think it’s wonderful. It’s great that we can actually participate in giving the toys!”
To hear where the toys were going right from those who would soon be handing them out was absolutely humbling. Their thanks and praise for Kids Wish Network, our mission and our staff made us all blush a little bit more, but it also made us feel that much more honored to have been able to help this holiday season and all year round.
At the end of it all, we gathered the Wal-Mart volunteers to take a group photo and we were surprised by Rich Redder from the Wrigley Foundation, who brought out a large check for $1,000 and presented it to Anna, our Executive Director. She was flabbergasted (as we all were) and asked why. Rich said that he was the Operations Manager – U.S. East division for Wrigley and he had come all the way down from Rochester, NY to present the check to Anna. He also explained that Wrigley had all of the Wal-Mart stores participate in a contest to see who sold the most Wrigley products and the winner would get a $1,000 donation to give to their charity of choice. Apparently, the Pinellas market won and they picked Kids Wish Network! What a surprise! It was certainly the perfect end to an absolutely amazing day of giving.
For all of their amazing work and generosity, we’d like to send out a HUGE thanks to the awesome people at Wal-Mart Store #4669. We’d also like to thank all of the facilities and their representatives who came from all over Florida to pick up the pallets of toys and Rich Redder for coming all the way down from NY to present the Wrigley check in person.