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Dr. Piper Center for Social Services prepares for 106th annual Christmas Day celebration

Posted at 1:52 AM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 01:52:47-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Twisting, turning, and tightening, volunteers working in tandem to get bicycles built-in time for Christmas, but Executive Director of the Dr. Piper Center for Social Services Nida Eluna says they need help.

“We need more bikes. We are at least short of about 40 bikes and helmets too. If there are any people there that have bikes and helmets we need them so desperately,” said Nida Eluna, Director of the Dr. Piper Center for Social Services.

The Dr. Ella Piper Center is built on a 106-year-old Fort Myers holiday tradition and this year is no different, even Covid 19 can't come between the volunteers and the spirit of giving.

“Christmases in the past have actually happened indoors inside the center. We have Santa’s workshop inside the great hall, kids come through the side entrance and go into the toy room. This year we’re taking the entire celebration outside into the open air so that we can be as safe as possible,” said Shavon Chester, Chairwoman for the 106th annual Christmas Day Celebration.

Chairwoman Shavon Chester tells us back in 1915, 15 young girls came to Dr. Piper's house to receive Christmas gifts. Today, organizers see anywhere from 300 kids or more on Christmas Day all from the Dunbar and surrounding communities. Dr. Ella Piper's spirit lives on in other landmarks in Fort Myers including The Luminary Hotel where you'll find a restaurant bearing her name.

“What an amazing woman. She was way ahead of her time and the great things that she did then, and to be able to see it now, and it’s manifested in greats things, like what we are doing today. It's amazing and we are just thrilled to be apart of it. It’s such a great feeling that there are going to be a hundred kids, a hundred little boys and girls that are going to have a wonderful brand new bike on Christmas Day what more can you ask for,” said Steve Adams, Director of Food and Beverage at The Luminary Hotel.

While these volunteers work hard to spread Christmas cheer, the center's executive director has a message she'd like to spread to parents.

“Please parents don't let your children be without toys this Christmas Day we are here,” said Eluna.

The center says the distribution will begin at 8:30 here at the Dr. Piper Center in Fort Myers and won't end until every child receives a toy.