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Holiday Magic -- Islanders overcome last-minute hiccups to sprinkle Christmas cheer over hundreds of local children

December 23, 2015
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A little snafu just before a huge Christmas celebration for the children of Fort Myers Beach wasn't going to stop island locals from sprinkling some Christmas cheer. Months and months in the making, volunteers with the Michael DeCarlo Foundation and several other local angels came together to host a poker-run fund- and toy-drive, followed by a community-wide toy-wrapping party, and Sunday, all that hard work came to fruition.

"Forty-five minutes before we were to leave for the church, due to circumstances beyond their control, the Lee Country Sheriff's Dept. couldn't make it with us to the celebration," explained Lena Neroni, vice president and director of operations for the Michael DeCarlo Foundation. "We had no Santa and no transportation. A little magic and voila! Alicia Taylor became Santa and the Fort Myers Beach Fire Dept. drove Santa and Mrs. Claus to the church."

That night, 108 island children received bags of Christmas presents. A wonderful night was had, complete with visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus and friends, singing, dancing, and even an indoor snow party.

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"A special thank-you to Kimberly Fullerton, Alicia Taylor and her son, Avery, Lorraine Perei McGuire, Gary Kroll, Diane McGuire Kirkpatrick, Paula Towell, Dawn Gaylor, the Lee County Sheriff's Dept. and the Fort Myers Beach Fire Dept.," Lena said. "Thank you to the businesses for all of the wonderful donations: Parrot Key, S.O.B., the Shipwreck, the Lighthouse Tiki Bar, Nervous Nellie's, the Munch Box, Plakka, Trico Seafood, the Lighthouse Resort, Beacon Bed and Breakfast, the Lani Kai, Twisted Scissors, Hair Etc., the Heavenly Biscuit, Matanzas on the Bay, Gulfshore Grill, Analogy Consulting, Hammerhead Gym, Wyndham Gardens, Hot Heads, Leani's, Janie's Sweet Delights and Skye's Restaurant."

To find out how you can help the Michael DeCarlo Foundation and its next philanthropic endeavor, contact Paula Towell, 239-410-6888, or Lena Neroni, 239-878-1565. Also, the non-profit foundation can now accept donations via credit card, as well, so for those of you without cash, you can still help the cause. Visit



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