LEALMAN, FLa — There’s only one Santa, but he has little helpers scattered across the globe. In Lealman this week, volunteers are busy providing parents in need with the perfect toys for their girls and boys.
“When you are struggling it’s hard to ask for help,” said mother of two Sabrina Simmons. “Sometimes you have just enough for your bills and not enough to give what you need for your children.”
Simmons is one of hundreds of parents from the Lealman community who will do their Christmas shopping at the Florida Dream Center. All of the toys were donated.
“Its about giving back to the community, helping the kids, so that they know they are going to have a wonderful Christmas,” said Florida Dream Center CEO Steve Cleveland.
“It lets me know that there’s still that saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a kid,’ and it helps out a whole lot,” said Simmons.
When Jim Millican began working for the Lealman Fire District back in 1988, their station was located in this same building where the non-profit is now. He looks forward to donating toys every year.
“We’re out in the community everyday, obviously if anyone calls 911, so we are out there, we see what the needs are for the community, we see where these pockets are at,” said Millican.
Lifelong Lealman resident, Janet Kinnel, is picking out toys for her five grandchildren.
“Oh they’ll mean a lot, they enjoy them and something they never really had but they will enjoy, its about the best thing that can ever happen and I appreciate everything and I appreciate the help,” said Kinnell.
Once the toys are selected, the next room is full of wrapping paper, tape and bows. Volunteers are ready help the families make the gifts look like they came straight from the North Pole.
“You feel like you are in Santa’s workshop,” said Simmons.
The toys are then safely placed into bags to be delivered, by the man in the red suit himself, at the Florida Dream Center’s Christmas Festival Dec. 18 at Clearview United Methodist Church.
“Carolers and little elves running around, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there, and you get pictures taken with Santa Claus and everybody gets a toy,” said Cleveland.
For more information go to www.floridadreamcenter.org