As the newly minted president of the Weeki Wachee Kiwanis Club, Jamie Lynn Hamilton is on a mission to fulfill 150 foster children’s dreams of having a joyful and merry Christmas this year. First, though, she needs the aid and support of the community to make this dream a reality.
The club is partnering with the Hernando-based Fostering Hope to make this Christmas happen for these kids. The festivities will come in the radiant form of a December festivity in Shady Hills; not just a Christmas party, but a whole winter-holiday experience!
Fostering Hope is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing help to foster children and foster families in the Tampa Bay area.
“The Polar Express is the signature event every year where the Kiwanis of Weeki Wachee get to give back to the kids in need in Hernando County,” said Hamilton. “We do a huge event including train rides, pony petting, Santa gives gifts, we serve food, and play games and even letters to Santa and the High School Key Club even comes out and helps make the day amazing.”
To lend Santa a helping hand in providing toys for 150 foster children, the Kiwanis Club of Weeki Wachee has posted toy collection boxes at three area businesses; all of whom share the interest of Hamilton, a wellness coach, to promote healthy living and energy.
Club Kinetic, 7241 Forest Oaks Blvd. in Spring Hill, is hosting a box in its juice bar, one that thus far sports donations that include teddy bears, a dog figurine, puzzles, painting kits, games, storybooks, and various coloring books. “We want to do everything we can to help children and the community,” said Club Kinetic owner Kristin Warford, who co-owns the establishment with Kim Horsman.
Also hosting a box is Evolve Nutrition, 11147 County Line Rd Ste 101, Spring Hill; and 11:11 Nutrition, 13910 Fivay Rd Ste 3, Hudson. “We’re doing this to help children who might not get as many toys as others and to help the community,” said 11:11 Nutrition owner Michael Voelker.
More help is needed. Toys will be collected in the last week of November, to allow plenty of time for gift wrapping before the Polar Express event. “The Kiwanis Club is doing a great job of helping us bring happiness to these children,” said Gloria West Lawson, Executive Director of Fostering Hope Florida, Inc., adding with a chuckle, “They even complain that I’m not getting them the names of these kids fast enough, so that they know how many to help.”
Because helping, as these participants have discovered, is a gift in itself. “Foster children in particular have seen things that no child should see. They deserve the magic of the holiday season,” said Heather Olejniczak, owner of Evolve Nutrition. “We collect these toys so we can bring them the magic.”