Tis the season of giving, and some local organizations are giving back in a big way. Whether they’re honoring our armed forces or helping a child in need, these nonprofits are committed to making the holidays a little brighter for North Florida and beyond.
Stuffing Stockings for Soldiers Project
St. Michael’s Soldiers is a local nonprofit dedicated to honoring our deployed and returning troops and ensuring that their sacrifices are recognized.
The organization has been operating since 2010, and continues to grow each year. Everyone who lends a helping hand does so as a volunteer, and the organization runs completely off donations. One-hundred percent of proceeds directly benefit the cause.
The idea to start St. Michael’s came to founder Kathy Signorile in a dream. Kathy’s son served in the military and she used to send care packages to him and his friends, but she said she awoke one morning knowing that she had a bigger job to do. St. Michael’s Soldiers was born soon after.
Kathy and her volunteers plan welcome home celebrations for returning soldiers and sends care packages to active troops overseas. Stuffing Stockings for Soldiers is their annual holiday project and involves sending stockings full of goodies to deployed men and women. Since 2010, they have sent over 3,500 stockings. This year, they are looking to add another 2,000 stockings to that number.
The stuffing takes place at Kathy’s husband’s car dealership, Fields Cadillac on Blanding Boulevard. Shipping costs are steep, so St. Michael’s Soldiers has multiple fundraisers throughout the year. The more money raised, the more packages they are able to send for the holidays.
“Deployment for our troops is always difficult,” said Signorile. “But being deployed during the holidays away from their families and friends brings on even greater challenges. They need and deserve to know their sacrifices are not overlooked by everyone back home. Our Stocking Project won’t bring them home to their families this Christmas. But receiving a stocking filled with yummy goodies and Christmas joy does let them know that home has not forgotten them. And hopefully we are able to bring them a little happiness during the most wonderful time of the year.”
The stockings will arrive the week before Christmas. For some, this will be the only present they receive.
Salvation Army Angel Tree
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree provides new clothing and toys for thousands of children from low-income households. You can help by visiting one of three Ashley Furniture Homestore showrooms in the Jacksonville area to pick up a tagged ornament. Each ornament lists a needed item for a local child, including their first name, age and gender. You then return to the tree with the needed gift, which is then distributed to the child by the Salvation Army in time for the holidays.
All of the items that will be distributed go to local Jacksonville families. The Salvation Army also assists with holiday meals, financial assistance and shelters to families in need.
Buy a Tree. Change a Life.
This year, the Christmas tree you purchase could make a big difference in the life of a child.
Fathom Church, located off Old St. Augustine Road, has a charity Christmas tree lot up for the holidays. The church will donate all of the money raised to nonprofit People for Care and Learning. This organization uses 100 percent of its profits to make a child’s life better. Eighty-five percent of the Fathom Church funds will go to Cambodia to help teach sustainable farming and educate children, among many other great resources. The other 15 percent will be used to help children right here in Jacksonville who would otherwise go without.