The holiday season is a time of sharing gifts and good times with friends and family. However, there are many who would not experience the joy of receiving gifts this holiday season if it were not for the many Island residents who make a special effort to collect toys, clothing and food.
The following groups and individuals are now collecting donations of gifts and money to make the holiday merrier for those less fortunate. Give generously this hoilday season.
Lawton Chiles Christmas for Kids
The 13th Annual Lawton Chiles Christmas for Kids, sponsored by the Chiles Group of restaurants, will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the Sandbar restaurant, 100 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria. One hundred children from the Head Start program and Healthy Families Manatee will attend a luncheon and party with characters in costume, games and Santa Claus arriving on a fire truck.
The restaurant group is seeking donations of cash to purchase shoes, clothes and toys for each child. In addition, each child’s family will receive a food basket with a complete turkey dinner and all the trimmings.
To participate or to make a donation, call Patti McKee or Allison Barrow at 778-8709. Checks can be made out to the Sandbar restaurant with a notation that it is for Christmas for Kids.
Mama Lo gathers gifts for migrants
Lois Finley-Shook, former owner of Mama Lo by the Sea, is making Christmas merry for 400 migrant workers and their families this year.
From now until Dec. 18, she will be collecting soap bars, shampoo, shaving cream, deodorant, wash cloths, body lotion, small combs, toothpaste and toothbrushes, gum, hard candy and socks.
Bring your unwrapped gifts to Susan and Mike at Anna Maria Island Accommodations, 5604 B, Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Gifts will be wrapped and delivered to Still Point House of Prayer.
Paradise Cafe Giving Tree delights children
Each year, Jackie Estes, owner of Paradise Cafe, has adorned her shimmering Giving Tree with tags to fulfill the Christmas dreams of Island children in need.
Estes’ Giving Tree was born one Christmas when she was picking up her grandson at Anna Maria Elementary and saw a child with tape holding her shoes together. She learned that the child had lived with her sister and disabled father and aunt when the aunt took everything and left them.
The Giving Tree tradition has continued for nine years. The tree is lavishly decorated with delicate ornaments, ropes of colorful tinsel and tags for boys and girls. Each tag has a child’s age, size and grade. Customers and friends take the tags, purchase presents for the child, wrap them and place them under the tree. Estes encourages people to buy each child something to wear and a toy. Anna Maria Elementary guidance counselor Cindi Harrison then collects the presents for distribution. In addition to AME students, Estes hangs tags for students she hears about through word of mouth.
Marine Corps Toys for Tots
Island Vacation Properties spearheads its third annual drive to collect toys for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest Christmas charitable causes.
Participants can bring new, unwrapped toys to Island Vacation Properties, 3001 Gulf Drive; the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive; West Manatee Fire & Rescue District, 6001 Marina Drive; and the Publix supermarket, 3900 East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach; Siam Gardens Resort, 512 Spring Avenue in Anna Maria; and the BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach.
Checks also are being accepted and can be made out to Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and taken to any of the toy drop-off locations. If you have a toy donation that you would like to have it picked up, call Ed Kirn at Island Vacation Properties at 778-6849.
Toys are due by Dec. 15. All toys will be given to children in Manatee County.
Pines entertains Head Start kids
The Pines Trailer Park is again playing host to the kids from Bradenton’s Head Start Program for its annual kids’ Christmas get-together with Santa Claus on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 10 a.m., at the Pines clubhouse. There will be singing, gifts, cookies and juice for the kids and coffee and cookies for the adults. The park residents started giving gifts for each child’s mother, since these are families with very little. If you would like to help with gifts for kids or their mothers or if you want to send cash, call Ross Benjamin at 779-9565.
Santa visits the Moose Lodge
The Moose Lodge, 110 Gulf Drive, hosts Santa at a party from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17. The festivities include food and games for the kids and Santa will arrive from the beach around 2 p.m. to pass out presents. If you plan on bringing your children, call Linda at 752-7777 to let her know how many kids, whether they are boys or girls and their ages. Those wishing to help the Moose with expenses or to volunteer can also call Linda at 752-7777.
All Island Denominations
All Island Denominations is making holiday baskets for Island people in financial need.
"We’re doing baskets for families identified by the Island Community Center," said Frank McGrath, the head of AID. "We pay for and pack the baskets."
McGrath said anyone who wants to help out with a cash donation can call him at 779-4579.
Episcopal Church of the Annunciation
The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation will be helping AID with its baskets. Also, anyone wanting to donate non-perishable food for the Island food pantry can leave items in the church vestibule.
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
The members of Gloria Dei are preparing 200 gift bags for men and women served by Our Daily Bread in Bradenton.
Each basket, 150 for men, 50 for women, will include toiletries, a pair of socks, a piece of fruit and some hard candy.
They are also in desperate need of baby diapers.
If you’d like to donate razors, socks, toothbrushes or anything else to include in the bag, or if you want to help prepare the bags, you can call the church office at 778-1813. The deadline is Dec. 17.
Island Baptist Church
The Island Baptist Church is working with the Good Samaritan Mission to help teen boys and girls. A plastic bag with instructions is available at the church.
Church members also are collecting socks, blankets and other baby items for Christmas Blessings and Mission Babies in Waimauma. The deadline is Dec. 17. Call the church at 778-0719 to help out.
Longboat Island Chapel
Longboat Island Chapel is working with an Arcadia organization called Merry Christmas for Migrants.
It is collecting toys, games, toiletries and other items as well as cash donations. It also is involved with helping children and their families at the Still Point house of Care in Bradenton.
The deadline is Dec. 17. The wrap party is Dec. 20.
To help out, call the church office at 383-6491, or bring your donation to the chapel.
Roser Memorial Community Church
Roser Church prepared and distributed Thanksgiving baskets. They’re working with AID and Manatee Children’s Services to make sure that people on the in need get Christmas help.
The church is also collecting phone cards to send to service men and women so they can call home for the holidays.
To help out, mail contributions to Roser, P.O. Box 247, Anna Maria, FL 34216. Make a note in the memo line of your check indicating where you want your donation to go.
You can also call the church at 778-0414.
St. Bernard Catholic Church
Members of St. Bernard have established a migrant giving tree in conjunction with Holy Cross Catholic Church in Palmetto. You can go to the church and take a paper angel off the tree giving you the name of a child and what he or she would like for Christmas. When you have made your purchase, place the gift under the tree. Cash is also welcome. For information, call the church at 778-4769.
The deadline is Dec. 19.