Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Vincent De Paul Society Spreads Good Cheer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Vincent De Paul Society Spreads Good Cheer

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher F. Aguilar, Shorelines staff writer

JACKSONVILLE BEACH ---- Inside St. Paul's Catholic Church on First Avenue North, the scene was reminiscent of Santa's workshop.

The sunlight peeking through the stained glass windows increased the spectacle of colors already provided by the sea of gifts inside.

A group of about a dozen volunteers worked feverishly, almost mimicking Santa's elves, as they made sure that the more than 950 gifts that had been donated by the church's parishioners were going to the right homes.

This is the fifth year the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the church have come together to provide Christmas gifts for those less fortunate. The society works year round to provide needy families at the Beaches with their basic needs and to help them get on their feet. This year, close to 1,000 gifts were donated by the 2,500-member parish.

In the first week of December, the society puts up a "giving tree" at the church. The tree is then decorated with paper ornaments. The ornaments include a person's name, age and the gift they want for Christmas. The parishioner who picks up that ornament then goes out and purchases that gift and places it under the tree.

Micki Williams, one of the coordinators for the Christmas gift drive, said that 140 families from Mayport, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach will receive the gifts this Christmas season.

"This event has grown tremendously," Williams said.

Anita Ask, vice president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, said this is the largest amount of gifts they have received in one year.

"People in this community give, give, give," Ask said.

With the abundance of gifts and the large number of families receiving those gifts, it took a sort of precision, military-type organizational effort to make sure all the gifts arrived at the correct destination. …

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