Being Santa for those most in need

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 12/20/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Daphnie Barber is a low-income single-mother raising three children in Clay County. Each and every year, Christmas rolls around and each and every year, it’s just as tough as …

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Being Santa for those most in need


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Daphnie Barber is a low-income single-mother raising three children in Clay County. Each and every year, Christmas rolls around and each and every year, it’s just as tough as the last to provide gifts for her three daughters, Skylar Hughes, Sophia Barber and Sara Weisbrodt. This year, however, things are going to be different.

Barber isn’t making more money necessarily but she is certainly receiving help this Christmas. That help came Dec. 16, in the form of the J.P. Hall Children’s Charities’ annual Christmas party held at the Clay County Fairgrounds.

“We are simply striving to bring Christmas to families that otherwise might not get one. We give clothes, bikes, toys and so much more, all in an effort help families in need around the holidays,” said Virginia Hall, president of J.P. Hall Children’s Charities

The 36th annual Christmas party is just one of J.P. Hall’s charity operations. The nonprofit also gives scholarships to students who want to go to college but might not be able to afford it. To date, it has awarded 272 scholarships valued at $436,000, according to Hall.

Each year, the charity hosts just one Christmas party. This year, hundreds and hundreds of families had lined up hours before the party began at 8 a.m. Barber and her three kids were here even earlier. Barber’s brother lined up Friday night to hold a spot in line for Barber who relieved him a few hours before the party began.

“I mean, of course, we are excited but on top of that, what they are doing for us is such a great thing that we don’t want to pass on the opportunity,” Barber said. “That’s why we were here so early.”

“Without this help, I don’t know what their Christmas would have looked like,” continued Barber.

Outside, it was quiet. Some families were talking but most were bundled up under layers of warm clothing on this particularly cold morning. Upon stepping into the party, that silence was invaded by the shrieks and shouts of something akin to the happiness one might find in Santa’s workshop. Families rushed through a makeshift line made of orange blockades while receiving small goodie bags.

At the end of the line, they were given an opportunity to take a picture with Santa. As expected, some kids were delighted to sit on his lap and tell him everything they hope to find under the tree. Others, not so much. After a young boy told Santa about a Star Wars toy he wanted, a toddler made his way into the arms of Santa, only to be met with crying.

When Barber and her kids made it to the end of the line, they pounced on the opportunity to talk to Santa. They wanted new clothes, some other toys and more. After sitting with Santa, each family was routed to the appropriate section based on their age. Here, they would receive clothes and toys donated by companies all throughout Clay County based on their age and particular tastes.

Barber’s kids received multiple bags filled with toys and clothes. More exciting than that, though, was the electric toy SUV car they received. Upon receiving this gift, Barber’s daughters Skylar and Sophia climbed into the two available seats. They knew how to drive it but had a tough time keeping the wheel straight. Big sister Sara helped them with that. From the second they entered the car, they were delighted.

“I got me a toy house and I got me a lunchbox, but my favorite thing is this car,” Skylar said.

Skylar displayed her excitement with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. She was excited to drive the car herself but for now, allowed her sister Sophia to drive.

Joining the family on their trek back to their car were Brianna Patterson and Morgan Rawlins, volunteer cadets from the Fleming Island High NJROTC program.

“We do this every year,” Rawlins said. “It’s so awesome.”

“We get to help make someone’s Christmas better and it feels so good to do that,” echoed Patterson.

Barber was thankful for the help of Rawlins and Patterson, and the help of the other 200 volunteers at the party.

“It’s really incredible to see the community come together for this,” Barber said. “This is how communities should be. J.P. Hall and the volunteers and everyone involved go out of their way to make this happen.

“They do all this to help families like mine have a good Christmas,” Barber said.


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