Back in the 1980s when Nadine King managed and owned restaurants in Virginia, she was having dinner with a friend and talking about her community’s needs when she had an idea: why not put on a charity ball for Christmas? She did just that. And kept doing it for the next several years.
Last year—by which time she’d become a permanent, retired resident in Palm Coast, where she and her husband had lived on and off for 13 years—she seized on the same idea for this community. Not just a ball, but a series of fund-raisers, including a golf tournament and silent auctions, that would raise enough money to help dozens of needy families through Christmas with food, gifts and clothes. The effort ended up helping 54 families (including 158 children). They got a Christmas dinner, gifts picked out from the children’s wish lists, new clothes and a Christmas stocking filled with smaller goodies and donated gift certificates.
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King calls it Christmas Come True and is doing it all again this year. The highlight of the fund-raiser is this Saturday’s “Starry Night” ball at Hammock Beach Resort’s Ocean Ballroom, a $100-a-plate (or $185-a-couple) evening beginning at 6 p.m. and including a silent auction, music by harpist and singer Melody Long Anglin, and dancing to the music of Jacksonville’s Sidewalk 65 Band. Local artists and businesses, including several restaurants, are donating items for the auction. Last month 64 players participated in a golf tournament for $85 a player at the Palm Harbor Golf Course.
“We raise as much money as we can,” King says. “This year my goal is to help 100 families, so that’s about 300 children. Once we raise this money, after the charity ball, that’ll be my last official fund-raiser. Then what I do is, I have a Christmas card that I created and laminated, and the children’s wish lists go on these cards. One card is for the clothing, and what the children would like for clothing—their sizes, their first name, the number of children that are in each family, so you get a feeling for who the children are.”
The second list is for toys. “I contact the families and I talk to the parents individually,” talking about what the children want most. King doesn’t choose the families. “I work with the organizations that are familiar with the needs of the community such as the school system, churches, food pantries, shelters,” she says. “They get the parents’ permission to give their names to me and then I call and talk to the parents with the understanding that this conversation is between us. The children are not to know that anyone but themselves gave them the gifts and food.” The idea is not only to preserve the specialness of Christmas for the children, but to preserve the dignity of the parents.
The cards that are the result of the children’s choices are then put on Christmas trees throughout the community, in participating businesses and select locations. People can “adopt” those cards, buy and wrap the presents listed on them, and place the wrapped presents at the foot of those trees. King then collects the presents for distribution to the families later. She uses the money she’s raised clothes and presents for whatever cards have been left unfilled.
“The most wonderful thing to me is that I had a woman come this weekend when I was at the seafood festival,” King says, “she came up to me and she told me she was a recipient last year and what a difference it made in her life and in her child’s life, and how things were better for her now. She just wanted me to know. That was a pretty incredible feeling for me.”
For more information to participate in the fund-raiser, contribute items or to buy tickets for the ball, contact Ed or Nadine King at 386/659-4429 or 386/439-7318.
Tickets for the ball can be bought at the Intracoastal Bank on Palm Coast Parkway, the Beach Bazaar on Plaza Drive, Federal Trust Bank in Town Center, Panache Shoes at European Village, Honeybaked Ham & Café on Cypress Edge Drive in Palm Coast, Rossi’s at the Beach restaurant in Flagler Beach, the Hammock Wine & Cheese Shop, Fisherman’s Net Restaurant in Flagler Beach and Angel Godwin Art Gallery in Flagler Beach.