The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg wrapped up events on December 18, 2020, for the 30th annual YMCA Neighbor to Neighbor Christmas Program, helping 403 local families and 921 children. This annual program provides local families in need with the joys of a traditional Christmas: a live tree, ornaments, a Publix gift card for a holiday dinner, books, toys, complimentary access to YMCA programs and services throughout the year.
“We named our Christmas program ‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ to underscore how important it is for people in our community to support one another, especially during tough times like these,” said David Jezek, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. “‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ represents the essence of who we are and what we do at the Y. While the program starts with providing the joys of Christmas to families in need, the holidays are just the beginning. Thanks to funds raised with this program, we’re able to provide participating children access to Y programs, build relationships with the parents and help support these families throughout the year.”
The current health crisis presented multiple challenges to putting on this year’s events, resulting in numerous modifications to the process to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, donors and participants alike. Christmas tree delivery day was done through a drive-through set-up, so volunteers could easily pick up delivery items without leaving their vehicle. Online gift registries were established to allow for individuals to donate much-needed toys from the safety of their homes. And participating parents selected toys for their children from the program’s toy box shop by appointment, which allowed for social distancing and eliminated any potential for crowding.
More than 400 individual donors and organizations along with 126 volunteers rallied to help the Y meet these challenges. This year’s YMCA Neighbor to Neighbor Christmas Program was supported by Platinum Sponsors, The Speer Foundation and Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc., along with 38 other generous sponsors. Visit www.stpeteymca.org/neighbor for a complete list of sponsors and to learn more about this program.