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‘Tears of joy’ as Boys & Girls Clubs celebrates the holiday season

Hundreds of children and teens in Lee County jumpstarted the holiday season by sipping hot cocoa, devouring cookies, singing Christmas carols and unwrapping gifts hand delivered by Santa Claus.

In partnership with its Adopt-a-Club sponsors, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County hosted six holiday parties to help brighten the season for club members of all ages. The festive parties, held over two weeks, were filled with fun surprises, including sweet treats, arts and crafts, holiday music and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Club members received gifts, toys and games donated by sponsor organizations and their generous employees.

“Our club members come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, and we know some families cannot afford to buy everything off their children’s wish lists,” said Denise Gergley, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County. “Each year, our Adopt-a-Club sponsors bring tears of joy to children who are surprised with gifts that Santa personally picked out.”

GL Homes was the title sponsor for Boys & Girls Clubs’ annual Holiday Gift Drive, which culminated with a Dec. 8 event that allowed club parents to select gifts for their children. Then, the Florida home builder hosted an Adopt-a-Club holiday party on Dec. 14 at Renaissance Preserve Neighborhood Club in Fort Myers, where youth members watched Home Alone, completed a holiday-themed art project and opened gifts.

“GL Homes loves to be a part of the communities we build in,” said Dianna Betancourt, project manager and vice president for GL Homes. “We add the giving and receiving into this party by not only giving the kids presents, but also allowing them to shop for their parents.”

Club members browsed a selection of fragrances, gift baskets, coffee cups, tool kits, wallets and other items, which volunteers then gift-wrapped so parents, too, would have a present to unwrap.

Farther south, Hertz opened its global headquarters that same night in Estero, where members of the North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts School Club had their photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus next to a custom-wrapped holiday sleigh, which was filled with gifts that Hertz elves helped distribute.

“This is a great opportunity for our employees who are so passionate about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County to be able to spend time with the kids and interact with them with crafts and treats, and just be able to see smiles on their faces as they’re talking with Santa, enjoying this day and celebrating the holidays,” said Eric Leef, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Hertz.

Adopt-a-Club sponsors for 2023 included:

  • GL Homes: Renaissance Preserve Neighborhood Club
  • Hertz: North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts School Club
  • Suncoast Credit Union: Park Meadows Community Club
  • Sharetea: Pueblo Bonita Neighborhood Club
  • Kiwanis Club of Lehigh Acres: Lehigh Acres Community Club
  • James Stephens Elementary School Club: GL Homes and Swanson Family Foundation

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