SEMINOLE CITY, Fla. — Businesses in Seminole City Center are teaming up this month to gather as many toys as possible. They call it the Red Sled Initiative, and the fundraiser kicks off Friday at 6 p.m.
“3,500 plus kids are going to be looking for something this holiday season,” said Jerry Cachia, with the Rotary Club of Seminole Lake.
That’s how many foster children are living in Pinellas County, according to Cachia.
The Rotary Club of Seminole Lake started the Red Sled Initiative in 2015. Since then, they have raised more than $200,000 worth of toys.
“But the need continues, with the situation with the pandemic things have gotten tough for everybody but especially the foster kids of Pinellas County,” said Cachia.
Studio Movie Grill is one of several businesses in Seminole City Center to have a red sled prominently on display, where people are encouraged to drop off unwrapped toys.
“Foster kids they live that difficult life. They don’t have that family environment,” said Cory Braselton, with Studio Movie Grill. “A gift is a simple thing, but it really goes a long way in the eyes of a child.”
Each of these businesses is offering an incentive to those who drop off gifts.
“If you drop off a toy with us, you get a small Quick Chick for free,” said Courtney Lucciola, with Chick Salad Chick.
To kick off the fundraiser Friday night starting at 6 p.m., many of these businesses will be bringing their food and merchandise outside for a Red Party, which will include live music and prizes.
“We’re doing crepes, which is our specialty, with different toppings, strawberries, bananas, chocolate sauce,” said Jeremy Duclet, with The Wooden Rooster.
Tickets are $20, with all proceeds going back to making Christmas for foster kids special.
“And I’ve actually seen and met the foster kids and their foster families, they are just so grateful, their eyes are full of tears to see some of these toys come in,” said Cachia.
For more information, go to needsconnector.com/redparty.