'Tis the season.
Last week, Thanksgiving gave Beach residents a chance to share gratitude with family and friends. Now, it's time to move on and help those that are not as fortunate and may need assistance to make their Christmas season more joyous.
Enter the 17th annual Spirit of the Holidays.
For years the charitable arm of the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Foundation has organized the Spirit of the Holidays committee and combined forces with the Fort Myers Beach Fire Department to hold fundraisers and deliver presents for children who need assistance during the holiday season. They need your help in making those dreams come true. One hundred percent of all funds provided are used for the kids.
"This event is for our local children in the 33931 area. Such a great tradition this has become," said Beach resident and Spirit committee member Corri Francisco. "The true Spirit of the Holidays is being a part of this tradition for our Beach families. What an awesome place to live!"
Next Tuesday, Dec. 4, community members are asked to attend the Spirit Auction at South Beach Grille inside Santini Marina Plaza at 5:30 p.m. The benefit event features a bistro-style dinner, live auction, silent auction and a 50/50 raffle to raise funds and make Christmas a little more special for those lacking holiday gifts. Gini Smith and Shannon Smith have agreed to co-chair the event.
The cost of the dinner/auction is $25 for the set menu of salmon or steak and, like always, South Beach Grille will give half of the ticket price back to the Spirit of the Holidays. Tickets can be purchased at the restaurant or the Beach Chamber office at 17200 San Carlos Blvd.
Auction items are still needed for the event. Businesses interested in helping the cause can contact the FMB Chamber at 454-7500. The firemen dinner, baseball tickets, wagon of booze and resort stays highlight the auction choices.
If you cannot attend the dinner/auction, then show up at the Spirit Pancake Breakfast at Red Coconut RV Park (3001 Estero Blvd.) four days later on Saturday, Dec. 8. This event, which runs from 7 to 10 a.m., will feature the park's staff and fire fighters cooking all-you-can-eat pancakes for a $5 donation, while the K-Kids -a youth club of current Beach school fifth graders sponsored by the Beach Kiwanis- help seat and serve you breakfast.
Giving trees are being dispersed at willing Beach business locations. So far, Fish Tale Marina, Munch Box, BB&T bank, Bennett Chiropractic, Century 21 Tripower Realty, Moss Marina, Zushi Zushi, Surf Club, VIP Realty, Beach Chamber office and Indian Creek Park have stepped up. Any other local businesses interested in having a Giving Tree may contact the Chamber.
"Various business in our area agree to have a Christmas tree in their building, and we provide paper ornament to them," said Francisco, who added the child's sex, age and wish list are disclosed but not the name. "School officials go through the forms of the needy children. Anybody can go to any of these businesses and pick an ornament or a few, purchase the gift and bring it back to that same place unwrapped."
On Wednesday, Dec. 19, the Spirit committee will throw a Gift Wrapping Party at Red Coconut RV Park at 5:30 p.m. Those who would like to donate time and help with wrapping gifts are asked to show up.
If you or someone you know with children needs assistance for Christmas, stop by Beach Elementary School at 2751 Oak St., the Fort Myers Beach Chamber at 17200 San Carlos Blvd. or Red Coconut RV Park at 3001 Estero Blvd. to pick up a form.
The Spirit of the Holidays is a non-profit committee that raises thousands of dollars to help less fortunate children have a meaningful Christmas. Besides the aforementioned activities, private donations, grants and generous contributions by concerned business and individuals will help reach its fundraising goal of $10,000. Leftover money goes to the Chamber Easter Egg Hunt and Beach school students in need.
Francisco reported that an anonymous person recently donated 17 bicycles, so the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation has promised it will donate the helmets.
During a recent event, The Beach Pub also raised and donated a mountain of toys and a check for $2,300 for the Spirit of the Holidays fund.
Once all is said and done, it'll be up to Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves to deliver the presents.
Donations are still being sought. Drop by or call the Beach Chamber office for details.