Valentine Bundles a huge success!

You are amazing! We asked for your help in creating 400 Valentine Bundles of Love for Teens (200 for girls and 200 for boys). We wound up with 900 Bundles that you dropped off or that we created using the cash you donated. How incredible!

The Bundles of Love for Teens contained full-size toiletries -- shampoo, condi-tioner, body wash, deodorant, body spray, body lotion, hand sanitizer, and lip balm -- plus a reusable cloth face mask and a bag of Valentine candy. We set up a drop-off location on Saturday, Feb. 6, at Compass Storage in Oxford (thanks, Compass!). 

 

SoZo Kids distributed the Bundles door-to-door for the Kids who normally would attend the after-school program (COVID has shut that program down for now); at the food bank and other locations in the Forest; at "The Rock Centers" at Forest high schools (places where low-income teens can get free school supplies, toiletries, etc.); and at juvenile centers where a few Forest kids are staying at the moment. Pastor Dave said the response was the same: The Kids were thrilled to get the Bundles of Love!

We wish we could thank everyone by name who donated, but here are a few groups or individuals we are aware of who made significant contributions:

Dee Statham and the Hazelwood Loop Group, Village of Chatham, donated 120 Bundles of Love. Also, Tom Statham presented checks for $1,300 to LaRae Donnellan, Friends of SoZo Kids Events Committee Chair.

Left: Judy Vokes, President of the Stone Creek for SoZo Kids group in Ocala, dropped off 20 Bundles and 49 face masks from her neighbors. Center: Janet Allbright donated 20 Bundles, which she embellished with stuffed animals and puzzles. Right: Mindy Pappas of Del Webb not only coordinated the Bundles of Love for Teen event; she also created 50 Bundles using her own money plus cash donations from her friends. She also secured a check for $200 for Friends of SoZo Kids.

A few other donors whose names we know also deserve public praise:

  • Donna Lavender, Charity Chair for the Bradenton Quilters, donated 15 masks hand made by her group.

  • Laurie Moravek, head of the Del Webb Spruce Creek Pokers and Needle Artists Club, donated nearly 100 handmade face masks.

  • La Rue Wright of Summerfield donated several bags of face masks she had made.

If we didn't mention you by name, please know that you made a difference in the lives of hundreds of teens. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Thanks to Valentine Bundles of Love Volunteers

Sylvia Dodson, Mindy Pappas, Donna Crist, Lisa George, Helen DiPietro, and LaRae Donnellan purchased items & assembled Bundles from donat-ed cash. 

Give a Gift in Someone's Name

If you are wondering what to give to friends and family who "don't really need anything" this year, consider making your donation to Friends of SoZo Kids be their gift.

We have beautiful cards to let your loved ones know you are honoring them with a gift to support children and families living in poverty in the Ocala National Forest. To get one or more of the cards, write to us at Contact@FriendsOfSoZoKids.com to make arrangements.

What's Up for 2021

Details are still unfolding, but here are the events we have  in store for 2021. Please join us as a volunteer and/or as a  donor! We will put out a call for help closer to each event.

  • May 8: Undies & Sneakers Saturday -- Collecting underwear and new sneakers for Back-to-School Bash. Two drop-off locations: Compass Storage, 4477 E. Co. Rd. 466; and Rohan Rec Center, 850 Kristine Way, TV.

  • June-July: Summer Program at Forest Lakes Park -- If COVID-19 guidelines allow, we will need six volunteers per day, Mondays-Wednesdays, for six weeks in June & July to work at the summer pro-gram in the Forest. It is open from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. We will also need help with breakfast, snacks, and lunch food. More details to come.

  • July 10: School Supply Drop-Off -- Donations of school supplies and toiletries will be collected and assembled. Two drop-off locations: Compass Storage, 4477 E. Co. Rd. 466; and Rohan Rec Center, 850 Kristine Way, TV.

  • August: Back-to-School Bash -- If COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we will need 30-40 volunteers to help distribute shoes, polish nails, cut hair, and help out in other ways at the Bash from 9-noon, Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Ocklawaha Bridge Baptist Church. More details to come.

  • October:  Angel Tree launched

  • November:  Angel Tree drop-off (at Compass Storage, date TBA)

  • December: Angel Tree drop-off (at Compass Storage, date TBA)

Friends of SoZo Kids Meetings

We will meet face-to-face at 1 p.m. on the following Mondays in the La Hacienda Room at Rohan Rec Center. Mark your calendars, plan to attend, and bring a friend! 

  • April 12 

  • June 14 

  • October 11 

Pastor Dave will join us at each of these gatherings. Hope to see you soon. Stay safe. Stay well.

Drop-Off Bin at NLPC

Friends of SoZo Kids has a drop-off box in the lobby of North Lake Presbyterian Church, 975 Rolling Acres Road, Lady Lake (behind Home Depot).  Please call 352-753-8484 before you leave home to make sure the church is open.

 

During the pandemic, many people are emptying their closets or garages and want to find a new home for their no-longer-needed items. While we appreciate your thinking of SoZo Kids, Pastor Dave does not have the volunteer staff nor the space to handle used items. When you drop off used items in our bin, we try to find another nonprofit that can use them. 

 

It would be better if you donated your still-usable closet and garage items to a deserving charity that is set up to handle such things.

 

Sometimes SoZo Kids can use working kitchen appliances or washer/ dryers (not furniture). To inquire about these larger items, call 770-550-4184. Thank you. Here is what we can and cannot use:

                        Yes 

  • NEW children's clothing, school supplies, art supplies, or toys

  • FULL-size toiletries (e.g., shampoo, deodorant, feminine products, toothpaste, etc.)

  • New linens

  • Checks written to "Friends of SoZo Kids Inc." (leave these at the church office)

                                              No

  • New or used adult clothing of any kind

  • Used children's clothing, shoes, or toys 

  • Used linens, cookware, or other household items

  • Knick knacks or other such stuff

  • Hotel sample toiletries

  • Pastor Dave says that at the moment, they do not need any more hats or scarves, either. Apparently, a lot of knitters and crocheters have been especially busy during the pandemic!

Before making a trip to drop things off, give NLPC a call at 352-753-8484. To inquire about donating working appliances (e.g., refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer -- not furniture), please call 770-550-4184. Thanks so much!

© 2020 by Friends of SoZo Kids Inc.