By: Dale King Contributing Writer
A couple of hundred children from Boca Raton and surrounding communities are beginning 2018 with new clothing, sneakers, snuggly sleepwear, toys and other holiday gifts, thanks to the generous work of the Boca West Children’s Foundation and their partners at the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County.
The organizations came together just before Christmas to make sure needy children could enjoy a shopping spree followed by a Christmas breakfast at Boca West Country Club. When the celebrating was done, they left with a gift, a “Snuggie Tail” manufactured by a company owned by board member Howard Boilen and all the fixin’s for a holiday dinner.
Following an early morning of shopping and a breakfast brunch that included chocolate waffles, juices, jellies and 120 pounds of bacon, each child returned home with a toy from Santa and a “Snuggie Tail” as well as a food basket filled with a turkey, a ham and fresh vegetables for their holiday meal. Characters from the movie, “Madagascar,” entertained the children during the breakfast.
The event was the eighth annual holiday shopping trip for 200 area kids age 6 to 13 who visited the Old Navy store in Shadowood Square in West Boca. Each child received a $75 gift card and instructions to purchase clothing for themselves. “Some of these children have never had new clothing, just hand-me-downs,” said board member Arthur Adler, who’s in charge of the event.
After shopping, the kids were transported by bus to Boca West Country Club where they enjoyed a “Beach Party Breakfast” and holiday activities.
The pre-holiday festivity began with the Boys & Girls Club chapter in Boca Raton. “We wanted to do more to get others involved in Palm Beach County,” said Adler. So this year, the invite went out to kids in Belle Glade, Pahokee, Riviera Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton.
Traditionally, youngsters received $50 to spend at Old Navy, but this year, “the board decided to increase it to $75. Old Navy helped out by dropping some of their prices.”
Boca West Children’s Foundation volunteers were up early to meet the kids when they arrived at 6:30 a.m. “We brought a refrigerated truck with hams, turkeys and fresh vegetables for their holiday dinner,” said Adler. “We had a huge stop clock and each year, the volunteers try to better their record. This year, they finished their work in 21 minutes.”
He noted that the Boca West folk have created a society called the “Dream Makers,” which includes the major contributors to the event. “A year ago, one of the board members brought in a young lady and looked around and said, ‘Am I in a dream?’ This led us to create the Dream Makers.”
During the past seven years, said Adler, the Boca West Children’s Foundation has distributed more than $5 million to 25 children’s assistance organizations. “We are the United Way of children’s charities.”
“We give money for pediatric cardiology, to an abuse shelter at JAFCO, for mentoring, for a health center at Florence Fuller Child Development Center. Every program is funded by us.”
The Boca West Children’s Foundation was launched in November of 2010. Adler said it came about as a desire by the thousands of members of the Boca West Country Club to give back to Boca Raton and the South Palm Beach County communities. The Foundation’s mission is to identify and fund projects to assist children and their families in need.