First Coast YMCA Sock and Blanket Drive underway
CLAY COUNTY – The Johnson YMCA Teen Alumni Board and Leaders Club are asking for donations of new socks and new or “gently used” blankets. All donations will go to those community members in need in the Greater Jacksonville area, including Clay County, on Thanksgiving Day.
Socks and blankets will be collected at area YMCAs, including the Dye Clay Family YMCA, 3322 Moody Ave. in Orange Park and the Barco-Newton Family YMCA at 2075 Town Center Blvd. on Fleming Island, through Nov. 22.
It is part of the Y’s mission to strengthen and care for the community. As the weather begins to cool down during the fall and winter months these donations will help to keep those in need warm across the First Coast.
The drive is part of the First Coast Y’s “Better Us Challenge”
The challenge also encourages the Northeast Florida community to complete at least 20 minutes of daily activity dedicated to the Spirit, Mind, and Body. Monday-Friday each day is dedicated to a different principle.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood sweater drive underway
CLAY COUNTY – WJCT partnered with VyStar Credit Union, Suddath and the Tom Bush Family of Dealerships to present the 19th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive again this year. Through Nov. 30, the groups will be collecting new and gently used sweaters, jackets and blankets. These items will be donated to nonprofit organizations across Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns Counties, and the drop-off locations, including all VyStar Credit Unions and Tom Bush Family of Dealerships
Since its local launch in 2002, the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive has collected more than a quarter-million articles of clothing and cold-weather necessities for First Coast residents.
Winn-Dixie offers COVID-19 vaccines to children 5-11
CLAY COUNTY – In accordance with updated CDC and FDA guidelines, Southeastern Grocers’ Winn-Dixie stores will be administering Pfizer vaccines to children ages five to 11 at its in-store pharmacies, upon receipt of vaccine supply.
As a preferred retail partner in the fight against COVID-19, SEG is committed to the safe and equitable distribution of the vaccine to customers in this newly expanded age group in communities throughout the Southeast.
The grocer is offering online appointments, which are preferred, and convenient walk-ups, as available, for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to eligible individuals and encourages qualified individuals to visit http://www.frescoymas.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine, www.harveyssupermarkets.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine and www.winndixie.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine for timely updates including available appointments, pharmacy locations, frequently asked questions and guidance to support the health and well-being of the communities they serve. The grocer continues to work diligently to keep appointment availability updated online in real time as additional vaccines are regularly received or due to cancellations. SEG continues to enhance its efforts to safeguard the communities it serves by doubling vaccine incentives for customers who receive two vaccines on the same day in all Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie in-store pharmacies to further encourage vaccine administration. To take part in the incentive, customers can walk into any SEG in-store pharmacy or make an appointment online to get a flu vaccine, which are free with most insurances, or COVID-19 vaccine and receive a free $10 grocery voucher. Additionally, customers who choose to receive both or a second vaccine of their choice on the same day, will receive an additional $10 in grocery savings.
Clay County Winn-Dixies can be found at:
• 3260 U.S. Highway 17, Green Cove Springs (904-529-8888)
• 3212 State Road 21, Melrose (352-475-1115)
• 2720 Blanding Blvd., Middleburg (904-282-3818)
• 2851 Henley Road, Lake Asbury (904-899-6900)
• 1339 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park (904-272-1547)
• 1545 County Road 220, Fleming Island (904-264-0398)
• 1900 Park Ave, Orange Park (904-278-2691)
• 8560 Argyle Forest Blvd., Oakleaf (904-779-5000)
Local photographer to be featured by First Coast Cultural Center
ORANGE PARK – First Coast Cultural Center will hold the nonprofit’s holiday fundraiser with family and individual photos featuring Osmeri Mancebo, an Orange Park-based photographer who specializes in portrait photography, and elaborate backgrounds and sets for the holidays.
Photo sessions will include a variety of packages for up to five participants in a staged shoot including a choice of set designs, photo sessions, digital images, and release for personal use and holiday cards, gifts, and more. Prices range from $299 to $449 and $25 for each additional person in the shoot.
According to Donna Guzzo, First Coast Cultural Center’s Executive Director, Osmeri is known for her photo style in a natural and relaxed environment, and a goal to let the family’s or individual’s story unfold in front of the camera. Photo sessions will benefit the First Coast Cultural Center educational programs for children.
“I am super excited to be part of this amazing project. As a local photographer and artist, I take special interest to support the First Coast Cultural Center, as I strongly believe it is making a huge difference in our community, especially with children,” said Mancebo. “This fundraiser brings me personal happiness and gratitude.”
Photo sessions will be held on Sunday, Dec. 5 from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 3 from 1-8 p.m. Care Connect+, located inside the Flagler Health+ Village at Nocatee, 351 Town Center Plaza, Suite 205 in Nocatee.
Photo sessions will also be held on Thursday, Dec. 16 from 3-8 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 2-6 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 18 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at First Coast Cultural Center’s Jacksonville Beach location, 3972 3rd Street South.
For more information, contact Callie Johnson at email@example.com or call (904) 280-0614, extension 1202.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month
CLAY COUNTY – November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and hospices across the country are reaching out to raise awareness about the high-quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness.
The staff at Community Hospice & Palliative Care provides medical care with the emotional and spiritual support families need most when a loved one is facing the end of life. Through this specialized, quality care, they see many patients and their families experience more meaningful moments together. Hospice helps them focus on living.
Becky Hamilton, a caregiver who recently lost her mother, shared her experience with Community Hospice & Palliative Care. Becky’s mother, Marga Dixon, was an engaging, beautiful, enlightened, spirited woman who was 90 years old. Her mom was suffering from dementia, and she felt blessed to have the opportunity to have her cared for by Community Hospice & Palliative Care. Marga adored her hospice nurse, they made her laugh, and she enjoyed their visits. Becky felt prepared, educated, and was walked through the process of what the next few weeks would be like. She was grateful and appreciative to know her mother was well-cared for and able to be in her home.
“The night before my mom passed, the nurse called me and shared with me that the next day would be the day my mother would pass. It was supposed to be her day off, but she made sure to be at the house and spent the whole day with us,” said Becky. “The nurse took me through the whole day step-by-step, and I was able to hold my mom’s hand, talk with her, and was given a gift of being able to know she was at peace. Having her give up her day to be with me and my mom was truly a blessing, and a gift and a tremendous comfort for me that I will never forget.”
This is just one of the many stories of our compassionate staff creating moments and memories for our patients and families. During National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, we will be highlighting them and their stories, on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/communityhospicepalliativecare.
In addition to hospice and palliative care services, Community Hospice & Palliative Care offers grief and bereavement support counseling, pediatric hospice and palliative care, veteran care and advance care planning. With more than 1,000 volunteers, Community also provides pet therapy, art and music therapy, spiritual care, as well as fundraising efforts so no one is ever denied care, regardless of their ability to pay.
Property Appraiser to conduct exemptions audit
CLAY COUNTY – Property Appraiser, Tracy S. Drake, has partnered with TrueRoll, an independent research firm, to conduct an audit of the county’s 55,000 existing ad valorem property tax exemptions.
Although the property appraiser’s office has the ability and capacity to investigate cases of exemptions fraud or ineligibility, a systemic review is not plausible. TrueRoll, who performed a similar audit in St. Johns County, has the analytic expertise to provide a complete review of all existing exemptions.
Florida law provides for a number of property tax exemptions, assessment reductions, and classifications that will reduce the taxable value (and taxes) of property. Homestead exemption is the most common. To be eligible, property owners must have legal or equitable title to the property and establish proof of permanent residency (annually as of Jan. 1). Clay County’s property tax base is predominately residential, with approximately 70% of the total taxable value consisting of improved residential properties, and more than 73% of those parcels are encumbered with an existing homestead exemption.
It is the responsibility of the property appraiser to determine eligibility and to ensure that all property owners receive the full benefits of tax exemptions to which they are entitled. However, property owners improperly or fraudulently receiving exemptions (and associated benefits) is problematic and creates inequity within the assessment roll and tax base. Ultimately, honest taxpayers are left with making up the difference that homestead fraud creates. This audit is intended to certify that all property owners pay their fair share – no more, no less.
Once a homestead exemption has been granted by the property appraiser, Florida law allows for the exemption’s automatic renewal - thereby eliminating the requirement of annual re-applications. However, it is the responsibility of any property owner who is receiving an exemption to notify the property appraiser if eligibility has changed. Failure to promptly do so, may result in severe penalties.
Pursuant to section 196.161(1)(b), Florida Statutes, the property appraiser may review the exemption status for any current or prior year (up to 10 years) and shall file a tax lien subject to the taxes owed as a result of the ineligible exemption, plus a 50 percent penalty of the unpaid taxes for each year, and 15 percent interest a year.
For more information on property tax exemptions, or to report possible exemption abuse, please visit www.ccpao.com.
Reinhold Foundation taking applications for nonprofit leadership training programs
FLEMING ISLAND – The Paul E. and Klare N. Reinhold Foundation, Inc. is accepting applications for its 2022 Nonprofit Leadership Development and Capacity Building Training Programs. Through this initiative, the Foundation focuses on strengthening the nonprofit sector by strengthening the leadership of nonprofit organizations that serve Clay County. Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides services to Clay County residents is eligible to apply.
Applications for the 2022 programs include workshops on nonprofit management, fundraising fundamentals, planned giving, marketing and communications, donor relations, and strategic planning. The programs are taught by Rollins College Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. All classes are held in Clay County and are scheduled from January through March. There is no cost for those organizations selected to attend. The Reinhold Foundation underwrites all costs. In addition, the Foundation will provide cash graduation awards to eligible organizations completing training programs.
Since 2006, the Reinhold Foundation has provided free leadership training programs to board members, staff, and volunteers of nonprofit groups that provide services to Clay County residents. Individuals from more than 100 nonprofit organizations that work to improve the quality of life for Clay County residents have participated in the leadership initiative.
All 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups providing services to Clay County residents are eligible to apply. Details and applications are available now at www.reinhold.net. The application deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 17.
For more information, contact Amy Parker, Executive Director (904) 269-5857 ext. 404 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘I Voted’ sticker contest offered to county high school students
CLAY COUNTY – To strengthen the sense of community among our local voters, and inject a bit of fun in the process, the Supervisor of Elections Office is hosting a student art contest to design a new “I VOTED” sticker for the 2022 Election Season.
Do you live in Clay County? Do you like to draw, or are you an aspiring graphic designer? Then this contest is for you! We’re accepting both hand-drawn and digital submissions. Now through Friday, Dec. 3, submit your artwork to the Elections Office by mail, by email, or in person at our office, located at 500 N. Orange Ave in Green Cove Springs. This contest is open to all Clay County students in grades 9-through-12.
To read more about how to enter and art requirements, please visit ClayElections.gov The “I Voted” sticker has become an icon of the voting process and a symbol of pride among voters. This small piece of art will help encourage voters, new and old, to share their civic pride- and to spread the word to get out and vote.
For questions or information, visit ClayElections.gov or call our office at (904) 269-6350. This and all press releases can be found at www.ClayElection.
Safe Animal Shelter’s Wizard of Paws moved to April
MIDDLEBURG – Due to the newest outbreak of COVID-19, the Safe Animal Shelter’s Wizard of Paws annual dinner and auction for the Safe Animal Shelter was moved to April 9.
The newly-scheduled fundraiser will be held at the Thrasher-Horne Center at 283 College Dr. in Orange Park from 5-9 p.m.
Tickets already purchased for the original Oct. 23 event will be honored in April. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased at Safe Animal Shelter, 2913 County Road 220 in Middleburg or by calling (904) 375-9122.
ElderSource Looking for volunteers to call seniors
CLAY COUNTY – The pandemic has underscored how older adults living alone in our area are often more isolated and need a connection to the community and friends. You can help solve this problem without even leaving your home.
ElderSource, a nonprofit organization that works to empower seniors with dignity and independence, is recruiting volunteers for its Caring Connections Telephone Reassurance Program. Caring Connections offers a simple way for someone to make a difference in the life of a homebound older adult.
“It’s widely known that many older adults live alone, protecting their independence. However, that doesn’t mean they still wouldn’t appreciate a call from a friend,” said Linda Levin, ElderSource CEO. “Caring Connections offers them a friendly check-in call and gives them the chance to connect with someone beyond their front door.”
Caring Connections volunteers are needed immediately with approximately 40 seniors currently waiting to be matched with volunteers. All volunteers are trained, background screened and matched with a special friend. Hours are flexible, as the volunteer and the senior work together to set the days and times convenient for each person to connect by phone.
Volunteers are needed in all seven counties of the ElderSource service area that includes Clay, Baker, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. Johns and Volusia.
To learn more about how to be a Caring Connections volunteer to if an older adult would like to be matched with a volunteer, call the ElderSource HelpLine at 904-391-6699. Or, email Volunteers@MyElderSource.org.
AARP Foundation now recruiting volunteers for Tax-Aide service
CLAY COUNTY – AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has kicked off volunteer recruitment for its Tax-Aide program, the nation’s largest volunteer-run tax preparation service. The program is looking for individuals to volunteer virtually or in-person in a number of roles to provide help to taxpayers.
Northeast Florida has started volunteer recruitment for its Tax-Aide program for the upcoming tax season. It offers free in-person and online tax preparation and assistance to low and moderate-income taxpayers nationwide.
In addition to tax preparation help, volunteers can serve as client facilitators and providers of technical and management assistance. Every level of experience is welcome.
Volunteer tax preparers complete tax preparation training and IRS certification. To learn about our volunteer opportunities, visit aarpfoundation.org/taxaide or call (888) 687-2277. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is offered in coordination with the IRS.
Tax-Aide offers free in-person and online tax preparation and assistance to low- and moderate-income taxpayers nationwide. Because of the complexity of the U.S. tax code, many taxpayers overpay their taxes or turn to paid tax services they cannot afford. Some may forgo filing their taxes and miss out on the credits and deductions they’ve earned because they are unable to pay for assistance. Tax-Aide volunteers can help by providing necessary services right in their communities.
Volunteers can serve in person or coach taxpayers online or by phone. In addition to tax preparation help, volunteers can serve as client facilitators, providers of technical and management assistance, and interpreters. Volunteer tax preparers complete tax preparation training and IRS certification.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has grown since its inaugural team of just four volunteers in 1968 and has served more than 68 million taxpayers since its inception. The program has volunteers in every state and now involves more than 36,000 volunteers. This past tax season in Clay County, Tax-Aide volunteers assisted as counselors, virtual coaches, managers and administrators, technologists, and translators, among other valuable roles.
COVID-19 forces adjustments to county’s library hours
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County public libraries are taking additional precautions to protect the health and safety of our patrons and staff.
All library branches will be limiting library hours and encouraging everyone to practice CDC-recommended physical distancing guidelines.
Libraries will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; and, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
To make browsing and checking out materials more convenient, patrons can utilize the HoldIT Self-Service pick-up kiosks located at each branch. The library catalog is available online at http://insignia.claycountygov.com/Library/Home.
Using your library card to log in to your account, you can select up to 15 items to place on hold. You will have the option to select from which branch you want to pick up the materials, and if desired, choose “pick up from locker” to retrieve the items. Items can be retrieved from lockers and dropped off in the book drop next to the lockers 24 hours a day.
Additional library services include:
• Seating is available for studying and Wi-Fi use
• Free Wi-Fi is available in all library parking lots 24 hours a day
• Mobile Wi-Fi “SmartSpots” are available to check out for 14 days with your library card
• Chromebook laptops are available to check out for 14 days with your library card
• Newspapers are available for public use
• Meetings rooms are available for reservations
• Study rooms are available
• Self-check stations are available for contactless service at all branches
Email email@example.com for more information or call the branch directly, contact information here: https://www.claycountygov.com/community/library/library-locations-and-hours.
Clay County looking to fill several job openings
CLAY COUNTY – The Board of County Commissioners are looking for a few good people – make that a lot of good people.
The county posted several job openings, including: animal control officer, building inspector, deputy director of engineering, engineering specialist, equipment operator, firefighter/EMT, grants administration analyst, grounds maintenance technician, HVAC technician, kennel attendant, laborer, permit services technician, veterans’ services officer and 4-H young development extension agent (apply through University of Florida).
For more information, click the Career Opportunities tab on the county’s website, www.claycountygov.com.
Guess Who coming to Thrasher-Horne Center
ORANGE PARK – The Guess Who, a group that’s connected with the masses throughout an exultant hit parade spanning fourteen Top 40 hits, including “These Eyes,” “Clap For the Wolfman,” “Hand Me Down World,” “No Times,” “Star Baby” and “Share the Land” will perform at the Thrasher-Horne Center on Feb. 18, 2022, at 8 p.m.
Add in fellow classics and double-sided singles like their No. 1 rock anthem “American Woman and “No Sugar Tonight,” plus “Laughing” and “Undun,” and the Canadian bred stateside conquerors are amongst music’s most indelible treasures who are eternally etched within the very fabric of pop culture history.
“You’re going to see an excellent version of the songs and hear exactly how they should sound or be played,” said founding member and original drummer/songwriter Garry Peterson.
“We’re coming at a new generation of fans who are seeing how the band can execute with enthusiasm. And we’re also making sure the respect level remains at an all-time high for how the music was initially recorded and remains at an all-time high for the fans who have been with the band from the beginning.”
Tickets for non-members will go on sale on Nov. 8. To buy tickets, visit thcenter.org or call (904) 276-6815.