Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

1-Person Volunteer Army Has Help from Blue Cross Staff

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

1-Person Volunteer Army Has Help from Blue Cross Staff

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY HURST

Judy Ellis could be considered a one-person army when it comes to volunteering in the community. Her efforts on many fronts were recognized recently by Gov. Charlie Crist as the recipient of his weekly "Point of Light" Award.

Though she and her husband, Jeff Combs, have no children of their own, the Queen's Harbour resident said she just can't help herself when it comes to society's most vulnerable: children and the elderly.

"I haven't forgotten my modest upbringing in rural Tennessee," she said. "We lived in a house without a bathroom until I was 8 years old."

Now a project consultant managing Blue Cross and Blue Shield's employee recognition programs in Deerwood, Ellis has worked with nonprofit agencies over the past 10 years, coordinating the annual "Back to School" backpack campaign to provide backpacks and school supplies for foster children through Family Support Services of North Florida.

She's collected and delivered more than 1,000 Easter baskets for abused and neglected children and more than 200 holiday toys for needy families, and has applied for and received company charitable funds to enhance special events for foster care and adoptive children.

Many of the collection drives are done with the generosity of Blue Cross employees.

"If it wasn't for them, there'd be no need to coordinate or deliver anything," she said.

"When I first got to Jacksonville, I looked at who needed help the most," she said at a recent luncheon, where she received the governor's letter. "Blue Cross employees have always been generous and wanted to do something for the community, so here we are."

For the past seven years, she has coordinated holiday events, including Blue Cross families "adopting" foster children, needy families and disabled children and adults throughout Jacksonville. The employees deliver the holiday gifts to the families. …

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