The Spirit of Christmas Foundation providing helping hand again
For 15 years, Jim Jamieson and his wife Sharon have been locating needy families in Lee County and assisting them with their Christmas needs.
The Jamiesons are hoping the 16th year will be another success with their annual fundraiser Dec. 3 at The American Legion on Buttonwood Drive.
Last year, The Spirit of Christmas Foundation provided 168 families and approximately 300 children with Christmas gifts, Mr. Jamieson said.
“People believe in us,” Mr. Jamieson said. The Canada native said he goes to every business on the beach to ask for donations to the cause. Many of those businesses end up offering items for the estimated 65 silent auctions which will be at this year’s fundraiser, including hotel packages, restaurant coupons and golf outings. The chicken dinner will be accompanied by music from Taylor Stokes.
The foundation does its work in a way that lets parents know they are helping them, but not how much beforehand. The Jamiesons will make phone calls, check in with schools, social workers, churches and hospitals vet their recipients and then invite them to Wal Mart where they will get to go on a shopping spree.
The gift is generous, with WalMart giving the Spirit of Christmas Foundation two lanes to use for the gift buying. WalMart also donates to the foundation. The parents can buy presents, including clothes, though food is limited. Sometimes the Jamiesons have to remind parents that the gifts are for the kids.
“There must be some toys,” Jamieson said. “We give them a Christmas tree if they don’t have one.” All of the recipients are also given wrapping papers. The foundation will provide a ride to Wal Mart for the parents as well.
“I love to watch them shop,” Mrs. Jamieson said. Some parents will ask how they can help repay the donations. Mrs. Jamieson tells them to “pay it forward” by helping somebody in the future.
Asked what inspired him to start the foundation, Mr. Jamieson said “the big guy I guess.” It started one day after he and Sharon were discussing what to get each other for Christmas. “It appeared what we were going to buy each other was frivolous,” he said.
He said he went to WalMart and asked the manager which employee was not going to have a Christmas. He took out $200 from his pocket and gave it to a worker who was struggling, Jamieson said. Another time, Jamieson said the foundation helped two girls who had been robbed, after being contacted by the police. He said he has helped families after visiting homes where children were sleeping on the floors without mattresses and seen refrigerators that were empty. Most of the families the Jamiesons help are in the Fort Myers area, outside of Fort Myers beach. He currently has a shed full of ornaments, Christmas trees and other items to help families with.
His next goal is help find a home for a needy person to live in.
“Priceless,” Jamieson said of the reaction he gets from those he helps and how much it means to him to help. “I’m getting old. I’m getting tired. I have a bad leg. How pitiful would it be if we got to Christmas morning and I don’t feel like doing it and 250 kids don’t have Christmas? So we do it because we can.”