Miracle on Main Street Scores Another Success
There was another miracle on Main Street, thanks to the Junior League of Gainesville and their team of supporters and community volunteers.
The December 7event, also known by its acronym, MOMS, marked its 23rd anniversary where the Junior League of Gainesville invites parents to shop for presents for their children at no cost.
This year, more than 500 families participated in the festivities that included kid-friendly activities like visits with local Gainesville celebrities Albert and Alberta; holiday photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus; face painting with O2B Kids; Zumba dancing; crafts and snacks at the Kids in the Kitchen tent In addition to the gifts parents may have chosen for their children, every child received a book to take home to read with their family through the Junior League’s Read with Me program.
“Miracle on Main Street has continued to evolve year after year, and has grown into something very special for hundreds of families in Alachua County,” stated Morgan Lee, president of Junior League of Gainesville. “We are so proud to be able to help so many families provide gifts for their children during the holiday season.”
Junior League members begin planning for the MOMS extravaganza long in advance – nearly a year – working with community agencies and elementary schools in Alachua County to identify the families to invite. Throughout the year, the League purchases new toys and bikes, as well as collects new or gently used toys via toy drives.
According to 2013 MOMS Chairman Channing Casey, it is estimated more than 1,300 children received gifts at this year’s event. “The impact we can make – collectively as an organization and community – is remarkable,” she said. “Knowing we are providing something extra special for a child makes the months of preparation and work well worth it.”
The holiday shop featured toys for children of all ages – play sets, games, balls, puzzles, dolls and crafts, to name a few – as well as ‘big ticket’ items like bicycles, scooters, electronics and more. The bikes were made possible by generous supporters who donated $50 upwards to $500 for the purchase of bicycles, in addition to grants from local businesses including Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors, Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association, Walmart Distribution Center, McGriff-Williams Insurance and others who wish to remain anonymous. With the collective efforts of donors and raffle participants, the League had more than 240 bikes on hand for families to choose from, which is much more than years past.
“We’re proud to be a part of such a great cause,” Mack Williams, Partner of McGriff-Williams Insurance said. “It just warms your heart when you see a child’s face light up at the sight of a shiny new bike or toy, and we’re happy to be a part of making that possible.”
More than 90 volunteers worked during the week leading up to the event, including Junior League members, theirs friends and family and employees at the Walmart Distribution Center, who have been devoted MOMS supporters over the past few years. Others pitched in to help as well, including Gator student athletes and folks from Gator Cycle.
“I remember the Christmas I got my first new bike and how excited I was,” recalls Fred Lintz, Manager at Gator Cycle. “With this event, we get a chance to share that joy with other families in Gainesville.”
Fred and the team at Gator cycle helped with bike assembly, conducted quality assurance checks, donated bikes Gator Cycle received in trade, and spruced up any donated bikes in need of repair. “Since I was first introduced to this event three years ago, I knew it was something Gator Cycle would want to make part of our holiday tradition,” Fred said. “The Junior League women and all of the volunteers deserve a big ‘Thank You’ for putting on such an awesome event!”
Funding for the event comes from money the League raises from its Thrift Shop and Tour of Kitchens event, as well as grants and donations from businesses, organizations and individual community supporters. To learn more about the Junior League of Gainesville and Miracle on Main Street, visit www.gainesvillejrleague.org.