By Drew Eason, FDA Executive Director
The Florida Dental Association’s (FDA) staff is made up of a team of very caring folks. Several staff members got together and asked if the FDA staff could (voluntarily) “adopt” a family in need for the holidays, which is something they’ve done many times in the past. I thought it was a great idea and the team took it from there. They worked with a charity called Christmas Connection, which strives to meet the wishes and basic needs of underprivileged families from all religions, races and ethnic backgrounds in northwest Florida.
Here’s a little more information on our “adopted” family: They were brought to our attention from school guidance counselors. After receiving a phone call from a concerned neighbor, we learned that a 70-year-old grandmother in our community had just taken in her three grandchildren. It appears the father is in jail and the mother is unable to care for the boys. We understood that the grandmother lives in a mobile home and has given up her bed for the boys, so she now is sleeping on the floor. We called the grandmother and learned that the three boys have moved in with various family members over the years, as their parents came in and out of their lives. She said that she could not see the boys move around anymore and didn’t want them separated and placed in foster care, which was sure to happen. The boys came to her with nothing but the clothing on their backs. She is a retired school bus driver and lives on a small retirement and Social Security. She is doing the best that she can, but feeding and clothing three growing boys is depleting her financial resources. The school helped get clothing for the boys, which she was incredibly grateful for. She did, however, report that with limited income, there is little left for extras. Christmas would not be a possibility for the boys and it was breaking her heart. She is a sweet, soft-spoken lady with the goal of keeping this family together. She says that they didn’t ask for any of this, but have shown resiliency given the chaos in their life. She says that with God’s help, the boys have come a long way.
FDA staff stepped up to buy gifts the family requested, and anything left on the list was paid for via our “Dress Down for Charity” program. Simply put, most of the staff paid $20 to dress casually during December — and it certainly brought in a lot of extra money to put toward gifts for the family! The staff was able to do a great deal for the family, as you can see in some of the pictures! They bought a bike, clothes, toys, a comforter and much, much more! Our hope is that this will be a Christmas they will remember.