JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On really cold days, like today, there are children who don't go to school because they don't have a coat to wear. Bright Holidays helps children and their families in need of basic necessities.
At a warehouse on the Southside there's a lot of sorting, packing and then gift wrapping. It's all for families who are in need of some extra help this holiday season. "Such as food, clothing, school supplies, and items of a personal nature that really make the difference in a child's life," said John Forrester, founder of Bright Holidays.
They're also giving toys, gloves, coats, and a holiday meal. The families were all identified through the schools. Usually a teacher or principal notices a child who doesn't have a warm coat, or comes to school early for the running water.
"We have a lot of families where the parents are out of work right now. The rising cost of living is affecting us all even in our area in Mandarin it's affecting our community," said Mandarin Middle Assistant Principal Angela Gaylon.
Each year the numbers keep going up. Last year, Bright Holidays helped 600 children. This year it will have more than 800 and a waiting list. Forrester said the schools are getting better at identifying the families in need but he adds, the need is greater. "In this economy it's easy to understand the need has increased."
Forrester founded Bright Holidays because when he was a child and his family was struggling, his teachers noticed. "Our family was experiencing difficult times and the school stepped in and made sure we had food to eat, clothing and looked after us and I've never forgotten that."
Now all the new clothes, and toys, and backpacks in the warehouse will be wrapped and delivered to each family's home just in time for everyone to have a bright holiday.
Bright Holidays is a 100 percent volunteer effort. There are no salaries and no overhead so all the money donated goes directly to help local families. If you would like to help or find out more go to www.brightholidays.org.
First Coast News