The joy of the season is alive and well in our community from the Salvation Army’s core of volunteers ringing bells, countless chamber and business toy drives to gift drives for seniors and more.

On Dec. 22, the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club held a party at the club’s free children’s dental clinic. Lots of good food, drinks and Santa were among the highlights that day for the clinic’s young patients. Best of all, the club raffled bikes and other gifts thanks to a donation from the family of club president Arely Ruiz. Children attending were given a $15 gift card donated by club members as well as numerous cards collected from the staff at Coral Gables Hospital. Kudos to hospital CEO Cristina Jimenez and her staff for their generosity.

Another generous outpouring came from the guests at Scott and Belinda Sime’s annual holiday party and toy drive for Lighthouse for the Blind, where Scott serves on the board of directors, and Toys for Tots. The night of their party, Dec. 8, they collected more than 350 gifts and with more still coming as of this writing. Not a bad haul for a private party and one that seems to grow every year.

Yet another group of happy children benefited from the Christmas spirit were those living at Chapman Partnership. Before the arrival of Santa (celebrity Chef Chris Valdes), the children danced and enjoyed some yummy ice cream provided by Sloan’s Ice Cream. Its owner, David Olmo, brought hundreds of toys collected from his stores as well as some amazing cookies served later in the afternoon.

Coral Gables Woman’s Club was on hand with this writer and club president Arely Ruiz to help out and present Chapman’s Flavia Llizo with a $500 check to help with needs for the holiday.

By the way, Flavia shared that the beautiful giant tree seen in the photo below at Chapman Partnership was a gift several years ago made by Dan and Trish Bell. Those two, like so many wonderful philanthropists and ordinary people in South Florida, make South Florida special.

May all of our readers have a joyous, safe and healthy holiday and a prosperous 2019.

Until next time, keep making each day count.

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