JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Now that the holiday season is upon us, local business owners are working to ensure children living in low-income neighborhoods in Jacksonville get presents this Christmas.
Owners of Cuts, Linez and Trimz hair salon on Moncrief Road and members of a community organization called Jewels of the Future, Inc. have held their annual Christmas party for the past seven years and handed out thousands of gifts to children in need.
This year, however, is different as they have been forced to relocate to accommodate a large number of expected attendees as they fear the parking lot may not accommodate all families.
“We have kids who won’t get anything for Christmas, and it’s disheartening to hear that,” said Diamon Wallace, vice president of Jewels of the Future.
On December 11 from 2-5 p.m., the Christmas Party will be held at Lonnie C. Miller Park just up the street from the original location. Together, the two organizations collect new toys, clothes and school supplies to donate.
“We have children who can barely get their hair cut and dress themselves. They need basic essentials, so we know Christmas just isn’t on parents’ list. They have to do what they have to do first,” said hair salon owner Renita Turner.
A married couple has already donated a multitude of items.
“They saw us last year on the news, and they came out then. This is the second year they’ve made a massive donation,” Turner told News4JAX. “We have eight bikes that they gave us. So if people know what the need is, they can help.
Lawyer and local pastor Stephen A. Smith became a sponsor of the event to help give back to an area that hits so close to home.
“I grew up just around the corner from Avenue B, and we were poor. So I come from that same community and that’s why giving back is so important to me,” Smith said.
The families that this Christmas party helps each year all live in the 32209 zip code, where rates of crime and poverty exceed rates of financial growth and stability.
“It’s literally one of the poorest ZIP codes in our state,” Turner said.
According to census data, more than 30% of families in this region live below the poverty line. Therefore, the organizers and sponsors of this year’s Christmas party are asking those in a position to help them do so.
“I think it’s very important that we spread this every time we have an event because the resources are needed. I believe if we had more resources for our children, our postcode would be much more advanced and more progressive said Wallace.
If you would like to contribute, donations can be brought to the hair salon at 6050 Moncrief Road. The organizers also accept cash donations on their GoFundMe accountwhich will be used to buy more gifts.
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