This is the second year that the major players have banded together to make sure that every needy kid in the Florida Keys will receive one special Christmas present. Wesley House, the Key West Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Salvation Army coordinate the donations and distribution, but they do it with the help of many other community partners. That includes the firefighters, service clubs, local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Jeremy Wilkerson, director of community relations for Wesley House, said all the clients of Wesley House will be served.
“And then we also had referrals of needy families from the Key West Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Salvation Army,” he said. “Then we set up a ‘store’ in each area of the Keys. The families come through with their vouchers and shop for their children.”
About 400 children will each receive three gifts and, in some cases, a bicycle. There have been donation boxes spread up and down the Keys with “Holiday Helper” signs affixed to the side. Look for them in places like banks, doctor’s offices and big box retailers. Citizens are encouraged to make donations of unwrapped toys. Gift cards and checks can go to the nearest Sheriffs Office or Wesley House office or the Key West Police Department.
“Teenagers are the hardest,” Wilkerson said. “We tend to rely on gift cards and check donations for the older kids to make sure there is something under the tree.”
Wilkerson said this coming weekend will be the last chance that those in the Lower Keys will have to donate.
Toy ‘stores’ open
Donations must be made prior to distribution day.
- Key West: Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 16-17
- Tavernier and Upper Keys: Thursday and Friday, Dec. 18-19
- Middle Keys: Sunday, Dec. 21.