Local organizations continue to give to community in face of pandemic

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 2:38 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Service agencies and local organizations continued their usual efforts to help families in the region. Many may have been a little nervous this year, knowing the need was greater because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, we discovered that people still dug deep in their hearts and their pockets, despite these challenging times.

One of the many examples is a local truck club called Noble Lyfe Kreationz. About 15 members hopped in their pickup trucks, formed a caravan, and delivered gifts on Christmas Eve.

Robert L. Merritt, Jr. is the founder and president of the club.

“There is still good. People do still want to contribute,” he says. “They just may not have the right vehicle to do it, or the right avenue. No pun.”

The group surprised three different families in Tallahassee and passed out several gifts for each child.

“I’m very thankful for what they brung me today,” says one young man named Juan.

The truck club’s vice president, Jose Magana, says that’s what it’s all about, even during these uncertain times.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to always feel blessed and put a smile on our face bigger than the ones that’s going to receive,” Magana said.

Michael Cork with the Remember Me Project, says there was some apprehension about asking people to donate to their non-profit organization this year because of the pandemic. He didn’t want to potentially add any burdens on anyone.

However, he and his business partner, Jimmeal Peterson, say it was placed on their hearts to move forward anyway, just as they had done the previous five holiday seasons.

They say the response was overwhelming.

“Everyone was on board and nobody gave us any pushback,” says Cork. “Everybody was excited to give and they responded immediately. So, once we started seeing the donations come in, the excitement started building up and we were anxious.”

“I’m just so thankful,” Peterson says.

They raised more than $1,500. The donations allowed them to give toiletries bags and gift cards to about 57 teenagers in foster care.

Peterson says that demographic of youth is often overlooked.

“They are ones that we need to consider when we’re thinking about solutions for problems like poverty and homelessness and education,” she says. ”I’m just so grateful that we teamed together.”

The donations from the Remember Me Project went to Northwest Florida Health, which serves foster families from the Big Bend counties to the Pensacola area.

When asked if she was scared that people wouldn’t give as much this year as they normally would have, Molley Clore says she absolutely was.

“For me particularly, it wasn’t that I was scared that they wouldn’t, I was scared that they couldn’t,” Clore says.

Clore is the Foster Family Support Program Director at Northwest Florida Health.

Just like the Remember Me Project, Clore says so many sponsors stepped up the donations.

She recalls one aunt who has seven children in her care that received donated Christmas gifts.

“She’s opening the bag, and just tears are streaming down her face,” Clore says.

There was a church from Marianna that sponsored almost 40 children. Members delivered donations to the organization in a trailer.

“He was so excited. He kept saying that they were so lucky to be able to sponsor those children. We were like, you’re the one with the trailer full of gifts. It’s like, we’re the lucky ones. So, it’s just incredible,” Clore says.

For WCTV’s Kindness Day, records were broken through the community giving, whether it was money, food, or toys.

Then there was the WCTV Red Kettle Takeover Day just a week later. WCTV was able to collect almost $16,000 for the Salvation Army of Tallahassee. That total is the equivalent of what we have been able to raise over the last six years COMBINED!

Experts say just like people banded together to help others in need at the beginning of the pandemic, the holiday season has proven to be another opportunity to do so.

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