FORT MYERS, Fla. - There’s no denying it. The holiday season is here!
While scrolling through a few Facebook groups, we stumbled across quite a few posts from parents and guardians asking for help.
There are many Southwest Florida organizations that are gathering toys, clothes, and food for those in need in our area.
“Need”. A word so often used, yet we looked for a clearer description of just what that looks like in Southwest Florida during the holiday season.
Cliff Smith, President & CEO of United Way Lee, Collier, Glades & Okeechobee Counties, told us that aside from the challenges that organizations tackle throughout the year including hunger and homelessness, it’s those unforeseen expenses that also put people in a bind during this time.
“Something that is unexpected that has happened in the family that now they have to take the money that they would normally use to buy a Christmas present, and they are now using the money to pay for medical bills…or pay the rent or to pay for groceries”, Smith said.
But, he wants families to know that they are resources.
“Almost every agency in our community provides Christmas presents for the children and the families that are in their programs”.
Groups serving our area are plentiful. But, they have to do the math to figure out what the need is ahead of the holidays, so they don’t run out of stuff to give. That’s why they ask families to register way before the time of year. Many agencies have closed their registrations.
Some parents, like Judy Crumbley, says she knows exactly what it’s like to need those services, and just miss the deadline.
“If they don’t have the resources…you’re still left out.”
Judy is a mom of six, and understands just how tough things can be.
Maybe you don’t necessarily need the help this season, but you’re wondering what you can do to help.
- Check out your town or city’s social media pages. We found families in there reaching out for help.
2. Reach out to local agencies. Registration deadlines may have passed, but they still may be able to connect you with a family in need.
If you’re parent who’s anxious about finding presents for your kids at this stage of the game, Judy has a powerful reminder for you.
“The most valuable things are the not the gifts. It’s about the time.”
Click here for a list of agencies in our area.