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Jim, Sharon Jamieson win 2017 Humanitarian of the Year

June 27, 2017
Jessica Salmond, Melissa Schneider - News Editor (jsalmond@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

While many make the beach the ideal place to live, work and play, some locals are also hard at work to make the world a better place.

The 2017 Best of the Beach Humanitarian of the Year Award was granted to Jim and Sharon Jamieson, the founders of the charitable nonprofit, Spirit of Christmas.

The Fort Myers Beach snowbirds spent their summer in Canada, but a friend, Mike Auer, received the award for them.

The Jamiesons founded their organization 15 years ago. Its mission is to help those less fortunate be able to celebrate the holidays with their families. It started when Jim and Sharon were getting ready to buy each other a silly gift at the store.

"I looked at Sharon and I said, 'you know, I don't need anything,'" Jim said. Instead, they decided to ask the store manager if he might know anyone who couldn't afford to give their kids a good Christmas. The manager introduced them to someone, and the Jamiesons spent $200 to make sure the family had a happy holiday.

The next year, it was two families. The year after, it was four. Soon, the Jamiesons were organizing fundraisers to offset the costs, and before they knew it they had founded Spirit of Christmas.

"We don't want anything out of it, we just want people to be happy," Jim said.

Since its inception, Spirit of Christmas has benefitted more than more than 3,000 families. This work is facilitated through the Jamiesons and a group of volunteers who work year-round to find deserving families in need and vet them through a network of churches, schools, guidance counselors and other nonprofits. Fundraisers help raise money so the families can go on a "shopping night" with gift cards to pick out items for their loved ones.

The Jamiesons haven't stopped at Christmas. Now, the couple has ventured into their next charitable acts: the Angel Home program. Through the foundation, the Jamiesons have put a little money aside from fundraisers to have a nice chunk of change to purchase an older home that needs work. With help of donated labor and parts, they would fix up the home and turn it over to a family deserving it, one that can't afford the standard rent. Jim and Sharon are working on acquiring their first Angel Home. Jim said through the charity he'll be able to get a low-interest loan, therefore able to charge the family a well-below average monthly rent so that within eight years, the loan would be paid off and the Jamiesons could give the deed to the family and make them homeowners.

"I want to do as many (Angel Homes) as I can before I die," he said. "That's our new game. We'll still raise money for Christmas but keep a little extra for the Angel Home."

Jim said he and Sharon were excited to receive the award but were very sad they were not able to attend the luncheon.

"My wife and I were extremely touched," he said.

 
 

 

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