Joy to the Children is Looking for Volunteers

Joy to the Children is truly a celebration of the “spirit of giving” that lives within all of our hearts.

Joy to the Children

Joy to the Children

If you are looking for a worthy cause to help out this holiday season, Joy to the Children is looking for volunteers. Joy to the Children, Inc. provides a Christmas Day celebration for economically disadvantaged children across Nassau County. This year the event will be held at Yulee Middle School. These families are cross referenced with other agencies and Joy strives to provide for those not being served by other agencies. Joy has expanded its outreach to children in need year-round, but the primary focus remains to be held on Christmas Day.

It began when a few friends realized they could share their holiday spirit with local children, since their own families were too far away. In 1994, they treated 36 children to a full Christmas dinner, gifts of clothing and toys, caroling and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. In 1995, Joy to the Children was born and now 15 years later, this cherished Christmas Day event has touched the heart of many volunteers who join the project’s founders in receiving the best holiday gift of all, the gift of sharing. Joy to the Children, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) organization, so patron donations have tax-deductible benefits. Needless to say, they need you again! Your cash donation, in-kind donation of supplies, and/or your time and talent all will benefit in the success of this program. Joy to the Children is truly a celebration of the “spirit of giving” that lives within all of our hearts.

Joy to the children and Santa

Joy to the children and Santa

It all starts with a list of families who may be in need. Names are often provided to Joy to the Children by our children’s schools. The teachers that are on the front lines with our youth each and every day can easily identify those students who may have an ill parent, or the primary bread-winner in the home has lost their job. They see the changes in their students when life at home becomes challenging or difficult. Other organizations and agencies include Sutton Place, the Department of Children and Family Services, CARRT and the Nassau County Volunteer Center. Any name provided is at all times kept under the strictest confidence.

Once the guests are determined, usually about 175 children, lists are made of the children’s sizes, ages, gender and needs. The Christmas Day party includes dinner and entertainment, so there is decorating, parking, transportation, registration, and clean up to arrange. The shopping needs to be done for toys, gifts, wrapping paper, books, toiletries and bedding. Gifts need to be wrapped and organized and everything needs to be transported to the event.

Santa and the Pirate

Santa and the Pirate

As a Pirate, I have volunteered to chair the Fernandina Pirates Club involvement in Joy to the Children for several years. Our first year participating, we had six volunteers show up on Christmas Day to share in Joy to the Children. Our second year, the club voted again to participate and we brought along a dozen pirates. This coordinated effort from our membership involves volunteering to give up a few hours of Christmas Day with our own families to share it with those less fortunate. Year after year, some of our burliest pirates stand up in our meeting and give testimony to the feeling volunteering for such a great organization leaves in their hearts. This year we will plan for 175 children and on Christmas morning we will don our finest reds, greens and golds; dressing in our Pirate’s best. We gather for fellowship and to stuff our booty bags with specially gathered pirate related holiday trinkets. With a hearty, “Yo-ho-ho!” we invade the Joy to the Children Christmas Party. Last Christmas we had nearly 40 pirates experience this gift of sharing!

Joy to the Children is an amazing charity and they need your help! Here is a list of some of the activities you or your organization may be interested in:

Shopping (Books, toiletries, clothing, bedding, toiletries etc…)
Gift Packaging and Wrapping
Gift Transporting
Food Pick-up (Christmas Eve)
Entertainment coordinator
Transportation coordinator

Christmas Day
Kitchen (serving and clean-up)
Table angels
Toy Angels
Parking Attendants
Family and Volunteer Check-in
Family transportation (to and from event)
Song Leader
Bible Table
Flag Presenter
Clean up
Costumed Characters

This is an exciting event and the current economy is tough on many of us. With that in mind, the children in our community need you more than ever. If you can spare your time, talent or funds know that you WILL have a positive impact on the welfare of our children. Volunteering is at your convenience, whether before, during or after the Joy to the Children Christmas Day celebration.

While those under 18 years of age are encouraged to help out in some of the early planning activities, they will not be permitted to attend the party. This is for the children and Joy does not want to risk any child recipient to feel shame or embarrassment by seeing a classmate at the event.

Orientation for those volunteering for Christmas Day will be held on December 19, at 9:00 AM at the Yulee Middle School before the gift wrapping session. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Caroline Tunkel, Volunteer Coordinator at or call her at (904) 491-8518 or (904) 557-6309.

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