I started volunteering 34 years ago when a friend asked me to attend a meeting in January. From the very beginning I knew I wanted to get involved with helping the children of Clay County to make their Christmas brighter. I began with helping plan the party, going toy shopping for the party, packing bags and handing them out at the Christmas Party. The Christmas Party is such a wonderful day of giving. Your emotions are high when you see the faces on the children and their families but sad when there are so many families who need our help.
Education is very dear to me and I was so excited when the charity began awarding scholarships to deserving Clay County high school graduates. Mr. Hall always wanted to help children year round and awarding scholarships was a good way to accomplish that desire.
I started volunteering for the JP Hall Children Charities Christmas Party as the official photographer. I was so impressed with what I saw, that the next year I became involved with packing bags and handing out the bags at the party. I continue to come back every year just to see the joyous expression on the faces of the children when they receive their bags. Knowing that they will have a wonderful Christmas, gives me a lot of joy.
I also like the annual auction so other people in the community can see what the charity does for the underprivileged children of Clay County.
Years ago, I learned from J.P. Hall, Jr. what the Charities did for the needy children of Clay County at the Annual Christmas Party. Having been involved with public education for many years, I joined in.
To see the joy on the faces of the children, was reward enough for me. Later, when the Charities began the scholarship program, again I was delighted to witness the joy of the recipients. It is my hope that these programs will continue to serve the needs of Clay County children for many years.
Kim Fortinberry says my mom and dad, Eloise and Richard Burman, started volunteering for the J.P. Hall Charities. After a few events, we saw the joy it brought them and decided, perhaps, we could make this a family affair.
While the girls and I were living in Texas at the time, we usually came home every Christmas and Thanksgiving, so we decided to start volunteering too.
Mom and I both felt that the girls needed to know the meaning of volunteering with an open heart. At first, the girls were too young to do a lot, so they volunteered to help sort toys, decorate trees and do odd jobs at the Christmas Party.
To Kim Burman-Fortinberry, it is about being part of a bigger community. A community that helps those less fortunate or those who are down on their luck. As a pediatric nurse, I see all kinds of kids come through my office. Children are my passion, so being able to help with JP Hall Charities brings me great joy.
Eloise and Richard Burman are an important part of the J.P. Hall Charities. Eloise makes the baskets for the Auction and spends hours decorating the trees at the Christmas Party. She always adds a special touch to everything she does. While Richard loves volunteering at the Christmas Party, he is best known for greeting all the guests at the Auction and the Scholarship Dinner.
Shortly after my wife Pat, started volunteering for JP Hall Children’s Charities, she got me involved.
For me, it was about giving back.
Each year, to supplement the toys we purchase, the Charities puts out toy donation boxes in various business location. Virginia was in need of someone to coordinate and deliver these boxes. It sounded like the perfect job for me.
I love it! It has afforded me an opportunity to get to know many executives of our local businesses. Now when I go to deliver a box, they greet me by name and show me where to put our box. I get so excited when I pick up the box and it is full of toys.
Volunteering for JP Hall is my privilege, something I really enjoy doing!
Bruce B. Butler, Jr , a native of Green Cove Springs, FL , was reared in the Clay County Florida public school system. At an early age Bruce was involved in many local and civic activities to include Clay County 4H program, Clay County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Explorer program & the Boy Scouts of America where he obtained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Bruce received a scholarship from the J.P. hall Children’s Charities in 1999. After high school Bruce attended the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in Tallahassee, FL where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. While attending college Bruce worked for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the Capitol Police Division. Bruce also served as a congressional intern for U.S. Congressman Adam Putnam in Washington DC. Bruce began his career in federal law enforcement in 2004 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Refuge Law Enforcement as a Federal Wildlife Officer.
Bruce has worked all over the country on special assignments and has represented his hometown at many national events in Washington, DC, and he always says, “All roads Lead to home.” Bruce credits much of his success to the support of his community which has helped him to accomplish so much in life. The J.P. hall Children’s Charities Scholarship that he received was a small beginning that has turned into a great blessing. Bruce has been volunteering at the annual Christmas Party for over 20 years.
After working in the central Florida area for 2 years with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bruce transferred to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Vieques, PR in 2007. In 2009 Bruce was promoted to the position of Federal Wildlife Zone Officer overseeing the law enforcement program in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In 2013 Bruce graduated from the 254th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.
I have always been a big volunteer for Children’s Home Society in Broward County, Fl and then here in JAX, but I was looking for another good cause closer to me in Clay County.
I received a donation invite from JP Hall Children’s Charity and knew I would love to be a part of this wonderful organization. That was 2004 and it has been such a rewarding, special time in my life.
I was accepted by all for many events, and even enjoyed the fun drive on that old dirt road to the ranch where my first duties were held. Of course, the Fairground Santa Party leaves me in tears each year.
I was lucky enough to find a source from PetSmart, where my daughter was manager, to obtain stuffed animals for the kids at Christmas, and now, my neighbors in Magnolia Point bring me all their unused bikes for giving to the families.
Thank you for these many Blessings, JP Hall Children’s Charity.
Pat and I retired several years ago and decided it was time for us to give back to our community. While we had tried many organization, a friend suggested we become involved in the JP Hall Children’s Charity.
Since we both love children, we felt this maybe a good fit. Virginia immediately welcomed us to the family. After volunteering for a few days, we truly felt like we were apart of something special. While we spent many hours decorating, buying, sorting and wrapping gifts, we finally understood what it meant to big part of such a caring community.
The day of our first Christmas party, we quickly realized we had found our passion. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they received their gifts was priceless. However, as sweet as those smiles were, the real blessing was seeing how grateful the parents were to know that their children had a Christmas that may not have been possible without the JP Hall Children’s Charities.
We are truly blessed to be part of such a wonderful organization.
It is held in May and Clay County public high school students are presented with college scholarships to St. Johns River State College and the University of North Florida. The number and amounts of the scholarships vary based on the needs of the particular student.
The 37th Annual Christmas Party for Clay County’s underprivileged children will be held on Saturday, December 15th, 2018. It will be held at the Clay County Fairgrounds, 2497 State Road 16 West, Green Cove Springs from 8:00 A.M. until 12 noon.
The Christmas Party is open to any Clay County resident. Santa is on hand for any child who would like to visit him. Each child from newborn thru fourteen years old receives a bag of three new toys based on age and gender. The child may then select one used toy, and free clothing is available for the entire family, thanks to a partnership with the Orange Park Clothes Closet. Bikes are given away on a first come, first serve basis. Hot dogs, popcorn and cokes are provided. Entertainers perform Christmas carols for the enjoyment of both the volunteers and the participants. Although the line can be long, it generally moves quickly and the Party will not end until everyone in line receives gifts. The outside gates will close promptly at 12 noon.
Children must be present to receive gifts. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to this rule. It would be awful for a child who has waited in line to not receive gifts because a child who was not there received a bag of gifts instead.
All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Are there any requirements or registration needed to attend the Christmas Party for Underprivileged Children?
The only requirements are the following:
Children must be between the ages of newborn and fourteen years old.
Children must be present to receive gifts. No exceptions.
Participants must be Clay County residents.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.
What will the participants receive at the Party?
Children will receive one bag of new toys based on their age and gender. Each child may also select one used toy. Free clothing is also available for the whole family. Bicycles are given out on a first come, first serve basis. There is a limit of one bike per family. There are also hot dogs, cokes and popcorn given to the whole family.
Where can I drop off toys and bikes that I want to donate to the Charity?
New and gently used toys may be dropped off at any Clay County Fire Station or Ronnie Robinson’s located at 3170 US Highway 17, Green Cove Springs. For bike donations, please call Richard Knoff at (904) 699-1072. Toys can also be dropped off at Chick-fil-A on count road 220 in Fleming Island.
What are the guidelines for the toys that are donated?
All toys must be unwrapped. We do not accept any toy guns, new or used. If you are donating a new toy and it needs batteries, please tape the batteries to the gift.
What if I have a bike to donate but it needs some minor repairs?
We will still take it. We have volunteers that repair all bikes that are donated.