Thousands in Immokalee receive presents, hot meals on Christmas


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Thousands in Immokalee receive presents, hot meals on Christmas

By Christy Dimond. CREATED Dec 25, 2013

IMMOKALEE, Fla. -- Thousands of kids and adults in Immokalee today received new presents and a hot meal thanks to efforts by Northside Naples Kiwanis Club and hundreds of volunteers.  For the 29th year, migrant families had opportunities they may not have otherwise had. 

"For a lot of these families, it's possibly the only hot meal they'll have all day and very possibly the only toys the kids will have," said Bill Ricigliano with Northside Naples Kiwanis Club. 

The day has special meaning for volunteer Rita Garza Easterbrook, whose parents were migrant workers and used to bring her as a child.  Now, she brings her family to volunteer at the event and hand out toys to kids in need. 

"When their little face lights up, it reminds me of me when I was young and that's just the best gift for me now as an adult... Their smile is my gift now," she said. 

From basketballs to dolls to toy cars, there was no shortage of gifts this year.  Perhaps the most special gift, said Ricigliano, is when families got their photo taken with Santa. 

"For a lot of families, this is the only photograph they ever have taken of their family and they sometimes can take that photo and send it to their families back home just to see what's going on," Ricigliano said. 

Whether giving or receiving, the Christmas spirit was felt by many today. 

"I'm a true believer that when you bring sunshine into the lives of others, you can't help but to have a little bit of that sunshine shine back on you," said Matthew Cantrall, governor for Florida Kiwanis.