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Community Rallies to Bring Holiday Surprises to Riley Elementary Kindergarteners

$15,000 in donations pour in after widely shared Facebook post

TALLAHASSEE — This is a feel-fantastic holiday story, one that shows the power of community, social media, and contagious generosity fueled by businesses and individuals around the world. Because of it, 95 kindergarten students and their families in Florida’s poorest zip code will have a brighter Christmas.

It begins with Classroom Connection, an initiative of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce in which local businesses support classrooms in Leon County. The Moore Agency has adopted and made monthly visits to Tameshia Griffin’s kindergarten class at Riley Elementary School, building on the agency’s outreach efforts in the 32304 zip code.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, four Moore team members brought donated cupcakes to decorate with the children along with a special guest: Santa Claus. After he read a book, Santa enjoyed one-on-one time with each child. It’s here where the Christmas magic began, as told by Moore’s Shannon Colavecchio in what would become a widely shared Facebook post:

A pile of presents under the tree is not guaranteed for them. Some might not get anything,” Colavecchio wrote. “So one by one, they came up and talked to Santa. I didn’t hear all of their wishes, but I overheard some. Even the ones who asked for presents for themselves said in the next breath, ‘and can you bring something for my brother and grandma?’ One little boy walked up to Santa and said quietly, ‘I would like some clothes for my mom.’ And then I walked to the sink so no one would see me cry.”

Although Colavecchio’s post did not ask for donations, friends began sharing her post and asking how they could help. Donations started pouring in from around the state and nation — even a $100 donation from England. By Thursday morning, more than $15,000 and counting had been donated and business partners were coming onboard.

Our agency looks like Santa’s workshop right now, with all hands on deck working to wrap presents,” said Terrie Ard, President and COO of The Moore Agency. “This community engagement to help children and families in the 32304 zip code is deeply meaningful for us because this location is close to our hearts as the longtime focus of our Moore Impact corporate social responsibility program.”

The Moore Agency quickly realized it had enough to support every kindergarten student at Riley. Contributions from business partners now include:

  • A large food box for each child and their family from Second Harvest of the Big Bend
  • A Kohl’s discount of $5 off per toy and hours of shopping support from store manager Hillary Gerber
  • A $25 gift card for each child from Publix
  • The promise of a free cake or a dozen cupcakes to each kindergarten student for their birthday from TC Bakery
  • A $500 gift card to Sparkle Tallahassee, made possible by the boutique and a Moore employee, to the boy who asked for clothes for his mom.

 

All I can say is wow! And thank you,” said Riley Elementary School Principal Maurice Stokes. “It means so much personally to me that you all are doing this. Our children and community are so excited to receive this outpouring of love.”

What has happened in the last 48 hours shows the power of a community, and really the world, coming together for children who need to know they matter,” Colavecchio said. “Every donation is because people want something greater than themselves to believe in and to be a part of. This is true more today than ever. Every donation is someone confirming they believe in these children.”

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