Each year, the Caridad Center, a free health clinic located in western Boynton Beach, organizes holiday events designed to help Palm Beach County families in need. This year, Caridad is asking for the community’s assistance to support three critical holiday programs — Adopt a Family, Meet Santa Day and Christmas in Wellington.
“The families that are helped by these holiday programs are 200 percent below the poverty line. It means so much to them to have some help over the holidays,” Caridad’s Executive Director Laura Kallus said.
The Adopt a Family program allows individuals or families the chance to provide a low-income family with essential daily items and gifts, and to consider fulfilling each family member’s one special Christmas wish. Once the Christmas gifts are ready, the family is invited to the Caridad Center to pick them up. At that point, the option of meeting the family is available.
On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Wellington Equestrian Group will host its annual Christmas in Wellington party and lunch for Caridad families. In 2012, the group donated more than 600 bicycles to the children who attended. Activities planned this year include a performance by a magician, a visit from Santa Claus and raffles for the parents. Each child who participates will receive a gift of his or her choosing. To attend, a family member must have been a Caridad Center patient for at least one year.
Meet Santa Day will take place on Saturday, Dec. 21. This event enables more than 1,000 children to meet Santa Claus, munch on Christmas sweets and goodies, and enjoy festival-type activities such as face-painting, arts and crafts, and a bounce house. Each child will be given a stuffed animal and a Christmas stocking full of donated gifts. Children will also be able to choose one age-appropriate gift from a table of presents. To participate, parents must pre-register their child on the Caridad Campus, located at 8645 W. Boynton Beach Blvd. in western Boynton Beach.
Quite a few organizations make Meet Santa Day possible, including the Wellington Equestrian Group, the St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, the Caridad Center Girl Scouts and other Girl Scout troops, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton, Spirit of Giving, Faith United Methodist Church in Boynton Beach, the Love Doctors Charity of Port St. Lucie, as well as several businesses in the community that collect toys.
Interested donors, sponsors and underwriters are asked to call Caridad’s development office at (561) 853-1638. Volunteers are also needed and can call (561) 737-6336, ext. 115 for more information. To adopt a family, contact Scarlett Fave, director of outreach services, at email@example.com or (561) 737-6336, ext. 115.
The Caridad Center is the largest free healthcare and dental clinic in Florida, serving the working poor and recently uninsured throughout Palm Beach County. More than 400 doctors, dentists and other medical professionals donate their time and provide services valued at more than $2.3 million a year. The center serves 5,600-plus patients annually, bypassing costly emergency-room visits, which saves county taxpayers an estimated $4.8 million annually.
In addition to medical services, the Caridad Center provides college scholarships, baby supplies, crisis intervention services, back-to-school supplies and more. In 2013, the center was named Non-Profit Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal. For more information, visit www.caridad.org.
ABOVE: Caridad clients enjoy time with Santa Claus last year.