Thousands of local residents are fed at the Christmas in Immokalee event. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)
While some local residents were slowly waking up on Christmas morning, volunteers were hard at work making sure that hundreds of needy children in Immokalee had a memorable experience. Although the annual event was started over 35 years ago by Mary Evans, Northside Naples Kiwanis has continued the tradition of spreading cheer during the Christmas in Immokalee event. From free cotton candy to face painting and horseback rides, to meeting with Santa Claus, young children were welcomed with open arms at the event. Before leaving, families were given plates of food to take with them along with Christmas presents for their children. Bill Ricigliano, Chairman of the Christmas in Immokalee event, said that the event was once again made possible by the large turnout of volunteers. While some of those volunteers included Kiwanis members, other volunteers like Maryssa Dimas and Raul Dimas III decided that helping others was more important than staying home on Christmas morning. The brother and sister duo helped spread Christmas cheer by passing out Christmas gifts. Additionally, Ricigliano thanked their corporate sponsors such as Publix who donated the pastries, Texas Tony’s BBQ who donated food, Track to Trail who donated their time and horses for free horseback rides, DJ Moni who entertained the crowd, Juan Medina who emceed the event, as well as Arthrex and many others. For more information on how you or your organization can make a tax-deductible charitable donation, contact Bill Ricigliano at 239-825-8406.
Christopher Martinez, age 5, excitedly grabs as many presents as he can carry at the Christmas in Immokalee event. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)