According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11% of people in Broward County live in poverty. And, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are struggling with economic insecurity. Despite the financial hardships many families face, events like Give, Care, Love: Hope for the Holidays bring together people in the community to make sure no families or children have to go without toys, food, and necessities during the holiday season.
Give, Care, Love: Hope for the Holidays is an annual event that focuses on helping families in South Florida who are unable to provide toys for their children or a hearty meal during the holidays. The masterminds behind this event are Melissa Banner, the founder of a nonprofit called Local Love, Janee Boyd, a Liaison for Broward County’s Homeless Education Assistance Resource Team (H.E.A.R.T), and Coby King.
This year, Give, Care, Love: Hope for the Holidays was able to help ensure nearly 300 children in South Florida had a special holiday season.
Seven Years of Giving Back to Families in Need
Give, Care, Love started 7 years ago as a Broward Schools Homeless Education Program event. However, it quickly expanded to a community-wide event that helps both families experiencing homelessness as well as other families who could use a little extra help during the holiday season. Give, Care, Love now serves not only families in Oakland Park, but all of South Florida ranging from Miami Dade and up to the Palm Beaches.
The event depends on community donations and in-kind gifts. Families who attend the event don’t have to pay any fees or charges–it is free for those in need.
Community Partners With Give, Care, Love
Melissa, Janee, and Coby solicit community partners each year to help host the event and hand out goods. Community partners this year included the Kiwanis of Oakland Park, the Lamp Lighters (a youth group of the Eta Nu chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity), and the Lauren Kahn realty group–to whom the event organizers extend a huge special thanks.
Several City of Oakland Park Commissioners even showed up on December 18 when the event was hosted to lend a hand distributing items and help make the event a success, including the County Commissioner, the Mayor, and the Vice Mayor of Oakland Park.
Making The Holidays Bright for Nearly 300 Children
Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases right before the holidays, Give, Care, Love was able to bring joy into hundreds of children’s lives for the holidays.
Melissa, Janee, and Coby said they were “able to ensure that approximately 300 children here in the South Florida area were able to receive toys, food, hygiene items, gift cards, socks, and more.” Families also received program literature from the Urban League, BSO, Nancy J. Cotterman Center, Lauren’s Kids, Girl Scouts, and the Community Engagement program at Broward Schools.
Melissa, Janee, and Coby’s Work Continues Throughout the Year
While Give, Care, Love: Hope for the Holidays is held in December, this team’s work continues all throughout the year. The organizers explained, “we also host an End of School Year event for High School Seniors needing help with dorm items for college, a Back to School Uniform and Supply Drive, and a ‘PROM’ise event that helps young ladies and men choose gently used prom dresses, suits, and shoes to attend their senior prom ‘in-style.’”
Their team accepts monetary donations year-round as well as donations of goods and services. Cash donations help offset the cost of their events, goods such as school supplies and non-perishable food items are given to youth in need, and services such as free hair cuts help students make sure they look and feel their best.
Melissa, Janee, and Coby feel as though it’s crucial that families in the community know that help is available. If they are unable to help meet a specific need, they are dedicated to working hard to find a group or agency that can assist a family in meeting their unique needs.
To get involved with future projects like Give, Care, Love: Hope for the Holidays, Coby King can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.