OKEECHOBEE — In 2020, the Okeechobee Healthy Start Coalition introduced the Giving Tree Community Christmas program to provide Christmas gifts to high-risk clients and their children. Facing increased challenges due to the pandemic, Healthy Start reached out to the community for assistance, and the response was overwhelming.
The Giving Tree Community Christmas program alleviates stress for high-risk families by ensuring every child receives gifts and clothing during the holiday season. This initiative relies solely on community support, local donors, and small businesses’ toy drives. For the past three years, this program has been able to provide Christmas gifts to nearly all of the children enrolled in three home visiting programs including Okeechobee Healthy Start, Parents As Teachers and Helping People Succeed, thanks to the generosity of Okeechobee’s residents.
This year, the need is greater than ever. The three home visiting programs have identified 352 children who require assistance. Healthy Start is reaching out to the community once again, appealing for support to make the holiday season brighter for these vulnerable children.
“We are incredibly grateful for our community’s dedication and generosity,” said Andrea Medellin, Executive Director at Okeechobee Healthy Start Coalition. “The outpouring support from sponsors, donors, and local businesses has been heartwarming. Their efforts ensure that every child in need experiences the joy of Christmas morning that we were blessed enough to remember from our childhood.”
Individuals and businesses interested in sponsoring a child or a family this holiday season are encouraged to donate at givebutter.com/okeegivingtree23 or contact Okeechobee Healthy Start Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org, (863) 462-5877.
Okeechobee Healthy Start Coalition serves as the community’s Maternal and Child Health Advocate, striving to reduce risk factors associated with preterm birth, low birth weight, infant mortality, and poor developmental outcomes. With the support of the community, the Coalition aims to promote health and economic equity by providing evidence-based nutrition interventions to nutritionally vulnerable, underserved populations.
If you are pregnant or have a child up to the age of 3, Healthy Start’s Connect program is available to provide free education and support tailored to your family’s needs. Contact the Connect program at 8772 577 1441 for assistance with prenatal nutrition, childbirth education, breastfeeding and car seat safety, in-person support, developmental milestones, and more.