Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist
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Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 17, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as Community Enhancement Collaboration (CEC) hosts its 18th Annual Volunteers & Partners Toy Distribution!
“For eighteen years, our volunteers, families, and partners have come together to create a Winter Wonderland at the Washington Park Community Center,” states Nadine McCrea, CEO-Founder of CEC. “Children of all ages and their families enjoy new books, beautiful wreaths and ornaments. They also enjoy seeing the various displays of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa with snow and a candy cane Christmas tree to pick from.”
What about Santa Claus?
“Our first ever Mr. & Mrs. Claus are back,” shares McCrea. “They volunteer their services year round and have lived in the City of Hollywood for over 34 years!”
Volunteers also operate a hot chocolate and cookie station and holiday music is enjoyed by all.
“Over 5 years ago I received a call from Mark Cohn. He has a 1958 fire truck, nicknamed “Eloise the Musical Fire Engine”. The truck spent 40 years in service at fire departments in New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Maryland, until Cohn purchased it on eBay in 1999. Now it serves as a wonderful addition to our annual toy distribution.”
Entrance to this Winter Wonderland is free but CEC asks that you donate a box of cereal and/or an unwrapped toy.
Parents are not allowed on the toy floor, but they are allowed to join in the activities.
“When I was a kid,” recalls McCrea, “the neighbors watched over us while we played outside with the other kids in the neighborhood. We played jump rope, hula hoop, red light-green light, jackstones, Mother-May I and Simon Says. Playing these games at the events takes me right back to my childhood and gives us, as parents/adults, a chance to connect with the children. Everyone falling down with laughter-they love it!”
Gift giving and a bike raffle from Mr. & Mrs. Santa and the elves ends the event. CEC normally collects about 1,000 to 2,000 toys and raffle off over 100 bikes thanks to, South Broward Wheelers, Adopt-a-Bike, and CEC.
How to register children to receive gifts
Parents can pre-register their children ages 0 to 17 from December 1 – 12 by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and a form will be sent back. Participants must be residents of City of Hollywood and/or must have participated in one or more of CEC or Washington Park Community Center programs throughout the year.
“All of our events and programs have been successful,” says McCrea. “The numbers of families we serve are through the roof. We have a great non-profit organization with no paid staff person-many moving successful parts, but no operating funds.”
How to help
CEC is looking for money, toys, a CEC Angel, professional help, and new board members.
McCrea says, “We believe with our efforts, their leaderships and various partnerships, the CEC may continue to be a bigger asset in the City of Hollywood for more years to come.”
Volunteers are needed on December 15, 16, and 17 and asked to help create the holiday displays and volunteer the day of the event.
For more information and/or to donate, visit http://cecwashpark.org/, call the office 954.987.0625 or call Nadine at 954.629.9142. The park is located at 5199 Pembroke Road in Hollywood.
Community sponsors and donors include: City of Hollywood, Adopt-a-bike, Donald & Patty Wilock, Feeding South Florida, Shelly Loos, Feeding South Florida, Memorial Healthcare System, Hollywood Kia, Hollywood Woman’s Club, The Friends of Broward Homeless, Southside Riders Club, St. Luke lodge # 530, Bruce McNair, Broward County AFL-CIO, Richard & Jennifer Davis, Shelly Demarco, Cindy Abraham, Hollywood Police, Washington Park HOA, Eloise the Musical Fire Engine and the City of Hollywood Youth Ambassador.