Christmas came early for many families and children of Oakland Park and surrounding Broward County residents at Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church on December 19th, 2020.
Care4MeBroward, in conjunction with Teen Girls in Action, Co- Sponsored by Hilson Management and supported by The Teen Alliance Project, Sunshine Community Awareness Program, Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Care Community Development and Resources Center put on a successful giveaway to those families who were in need during the holidays.
Through the many economic hardships or loss of housing that families are facing this year, the organizations above came together to help as many families as they possibly could in a safe and efficient manner. One in every 5 children in Broward County are affected by poverty. “In many cases, families and students have tried their best but still need a hand up (not a handout). Helping struggling students realize is just one of the goals we hope to accomplish with the help of our greater community that knows the importance of ‘giving back”, Melissa Banner, of Care4MeBroward stated.
Hosted at Mt. Zion A.M.E. church a total of 213 families and 427 children received food baskets, fresh produce, turkey, essential items, toiletries, and toys for the holidays. Cars drove through the back entrance of the church to the front to get their items and some other surprises along the way. Rev. George A. Hardy of Mt. Zion A.M.E. was overjoyed to be able to assist in putting such an event on. “We are known for community outreach and we don’t bring anything unless we are sending it right back out”, Hardy expressed.
Many different vendors and were also in attendance greeting the families as they went by. Other vendors included the HBCU Alumni of Broward County, Girl Scouts of South Florida, BSO, and others. The HBCU Alumni Association representing 12 HBCUs and organizer Mr. Michael Shorter, Alumnus of Bethune Cookman University were distributing gift cards to the families who had teenagers. Clinson Bornelus and his organization donated 14 bicycles to be distributed as well. “I am so thankful for the support from our volunteers that came out. And of course, a special thanks to the other co-creators of the event and to all the sponsors who gave”, said Coby King.
Aside from Santa and Mrs. Claus, there were some other special guests making an appearance to wish residents a Happy Holidays! Of the Oakland Park City Commission, Mayor Jane Bolin, Commissioner Aisha Gordon, and Commissioner Mitch Rosenwald were in attendance and helping distribute items and meet with residents. Mayor Bolin was truly in the spirit of giving and decided to purchase and distribute $10 PDQ gift cards to support a local business and our local families in need! She also included her card for any further assistance residents may need.
Not only was this a wonderful assistance to the event, but a great opportunity for residents to make a connection and meet with their City Commission. Although 250 families were expected all the organizations were pleased to be able to distribute to as many families and children as they did.
Families who drove through were so grateful expressing how the event allowed them to have a meal to prepare for the holidays, gifts for their children to open, and just the feeling of being supported. “It was definitely an awesome site of collaboration and connectivity that brought all Broward county together to give, care, and show love to families in need”, King remarked.
Albert W. Pulver was born and raised in Oakland Park. He graduated from Northeast High School in 2019, holding many different offices, including BCASC Vice President, Class President all four years, and many other different titles. Very involved in local government, Albert was the first high school student to attend the Oakland Park LGA in 2018 and also has served on the Oakland Park School Advisory Board.
In 2020, Albert moved to Wilton Manors but insists that his heart lies in Oakland Park. Albert currently works for Broward County Parks & Recreation at Topeekeegee Yugnee (T.Y.) Park in Hollywood, FL, Part-Time at Wings Plus in Oakland Park, and does Logo, Web, & Social Media design on the side.
Albert enjoys his free time (when available), spending time with his American Bully puppy, family, and playing Bingo at the American Legion Post 222!