Spirit of the holidays arrives for Beach Kids Foundation
At this time last year, the Beach Kids Foundation was planning its annual spirit of the holidays fundraising bash, which drew about 160 people. There won’t be a bash this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the foundation’s mission to help children continues and so are its fundraising efforts.
“It’s a shame we just can’t get that many people together this year,” said Beach Kids Foundation President Linda Beasley.
Plans are still in place to deliver toys for the holidays to Beach Elementary School students and their families.
“We’re doing mail-ins right now,” Beasley said, regarding fundraising. The foundation has partnered with a number of businesses on Fort Myers Beach to set up drop-off locations for toys and gift cards.
Beach Kids Foundation volunteer Tracey Gore said “people can bring in toys, supplies that kids may need” to the drop-off locations. Beasley said the toys should be delivered unwrapped.
Gore said this year was an important one for the foundation as “people are kind of struggling.”
In addition to the toy drive, the funds raised through the foundation’s mail-in efforts go towards the foundation’s scholarship program for Beach children. The foundation also helps Beach Elementary with different needs of the staff and students, from sanitizers and cleaning supplies to helping needy students who need bed sheets. In the past, they have delivered items such as desks that were needed.
The foundation’s scholarship program has been a key part of their activities. In 2019, the foundation set a record with 28 scholarships to college students, though that was down to 15 this past year with not as many students returning to college. “A lot of kids didn’t return to school,” Beasley said.
Beach Elementary School serves children of families who live on the island as well as some students who are the children of island workers. Students were given forms to take home to their parents if they wish to receive presents this holiday season and were asked to put together a wish list. Gore said the foundation will take care of all the siblings, in addition to the elementary students.
The family can also request whether they want a visit from the town’s firefighters and “Santa Claus” or whether they prefer to pick up their gifts directly from the foundation or at the school. Normally, presents are delivered to a home with a visit from a fire truck and members of the town’s fire department and foundation.
Gore said that Santa Claus will be wearing a mask. “Everybody is going to be safe,” she said. Beasley said parents will be asked to make sure they and their children are wearing masks during the visits.
Beasley said much of the assistance will be focused on families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have either lost jobs or are otherwise struggling due to the pandemic.
The foundation has been getting a lot of support from the community.
Lani Kai Island Resort Marketing Director Melissa Schneider said the resort donated $500 to the cause. “They always do such wonderful things for kids,” Schneider said. “We’re always so happy to support them.”
Beach Kids Foundation board member Donna Raymond said the Boardwalk Caper Club will be holding a toy and gift card drive on Dec. 5.
Peter Ennis, co-owner of Snug Harbor, said the restaurant will be donating 20% of all food sales on Tuesday Dec. 15 to raise money for the foundation.
“We all really want to get involved in the community,” he said. “We want to thank the Beach Kids Foundation for reaching out in these trying times. We are glad we can be a part of it.”
Those looking for drop-off locations for toys or gift cards, can swing by the following businesses:
Century 21/TriPower at 2001 Estero Boulevard
Hammerhead Gym at 3051 Estero Boulevard
Fort Myers Beach Fire Station 31 at the intersection of Estero Boulevard and Donora Boulevard
Lani Kai Island Resort at 1400 Estero Boulevard
Loffreno Real Estate at 2100 Estero Boulevard
Red Coconut RV Park at 3001 Estero Boulevard
To send donations directly to the organization, their address is:
Beach Kids Foundation
2801 Estero Blvd. Suite B
Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931