DCF “Operation Santa Cause” Holiday Campaign More Than Half Way to Goal

For Immediate Release:
December 14, 2012

Erin Gillespie
Press Secretary
(850) 717-4450

DCF “Operation Santa Cause” Holiday Campaign More Than Half Way to Goal
Communities have reached out to help seven of 12 families highlighted

TALLAHASSEE—In Jacksonville, an 18-year-old young adult with Muscular Dystrophy is getting an iPad for Christmas to help his educational development. A 21-year-old in Broward County who recently adopted her 16-year-old brother will receive a car donated by one of Florida’s leading child advocates.

A young father in Miami who aged out of foster care and was recently reunified with his baby will get some special presents for his 18-month-old son. In Polk County, a local company volunteered landscaping services to help a disabled adult.

The Department of Children and Families is hoping to partner with community organizations to fulfill all of the wishes in our “Operation Santa Cause” campaign.

“We are so appreciative that these local individuals and businesses reached out to help a neighbor in need,” said Secretary David Wilkins. “There are still five families who are in need, so please see if you can give your time or resources to help.”

DCF's mission is to help those most in need. That job is daunting. We investigated 188,000 child abuse cases and helped more than 62,000 children in child welfare last year. More than 4.8 million people receive public assistance, more than 52,000 Floridians were served in our domestic violence shelters, and more than 54,300 people are reported homeless.

However, the most exciting part of being in the business of helping others is when we are allowed the opportunity to witness communities helping their neighbors. Our Partners for Promise initiative, which kicked off one year ago, now has more than 1,550 local partner organizations signed up to provide real change in the lives of others.

Below are the five individuals and families in this state who need a helping hand this holiday season. If you or anyone you know in your community would like to make a difference this year, please contact us at the number provided below each story. We will then connect you with the local organizations making these wishes come true this holiday season.

For more information, go to http://flpartnersforpromise.com/12Wishes.shtml.


Operation Santa "Cause"

  • Escambia County: The Carver Community Center in Escambia County is 100 percent funded by community donations. The facility provides a safe place for children to go after school and during the summer, meals for 150 to 200 children each day, and also tutoring services for children year round.
    • Wish: The Center needs Internet service and 15 computers to replace the current computers that are old and very slow. To assist the children in developing reading skills, the Center uses “Ultimate Speed Reader” software. Each license costs around $35 and they need 15. The cost of a computer varies but is about $650 each for Dell All In One computers. The Internet service is about $100 each month.
    • Contact: Nicole Stookey, 850-488-0568, or Nicole_Stookey@dcf.state.fl.us.
  • Marion County: A disabled adult needs a new roof for her home and is unable to afford the cost. Her roof leaks severely when it rains and as a result the home has active mold. This is detrimental to the client’s health as she is on oxygen due to respiratory issues.
    • Wish: An organization or group of individuals willing to assist with repairing her roof and removing the mold. Estimated cost for roof repair is thousands of dollars. Professional skills could also be donated.
    • Contact: Kristi Gray (407) 317-7042 or Kristin_Gray@dcf.state.fl.us.
  • Orlando area: A single mother of four children between the ages of 2 and 14 has no car and travels with all of her children by walking or public transportation. She currently works in a plant nursery. She is a humble, hard-working mother who is grateful for the opportunity to work and provide a safe home for herself and her children. These hardships have not prevented her from ensuring her children attend school regularly.
    • Wish: Child care for the younger siblings would help and ensure they are in a safe and nurturing environment while their mom is at work. A licensed child care facility could donate up to a year of care. Or an organization or individual could provide financial assistance to keep the children in quality child care.
    • Contact: Kristi Gray (407) 317-7042 or Kristin_Gray@dcf.state.fl.us.
  • Broward County: Two sisters, one 16 and the other 13, are currently being raised by their grandmother due to their mother's mental health and substance abuse issues. The family is living well below poverty. The 16-year-old has an emotional disability and the majority of her disability funds are used to help her grandmother pay rent and other bills. The girls slept on the floor prior to receiving beds from the community-based care organization ChildNet.
    • Wish: The holidays would be extra special if the girls could get a room makeover. The girls need a dresser, curtains, sheets and other small items for their room. Estimated cost for the room makeover is around $2,500.
    • Contact: Paige Patterson-Hughes, 954-202-3209, or Paige_Patterson-Hughes@dcf.state.fl.us.
  • Miami-Dade County: A single working mother adopted her nephew and another foster child. They are very good boys, very well-mannered and do well in school. The mother is struggling since her sister moved out and she cannot afford rent on her own. She has been looking for another place, but has not been able to find anything decent for the boys to live in and not disrupt their school. Even under these pressures, she continues to fundraise for foster kids and is a moral support to the foster and adoptive families that participate in the local foster parent association.
    • Wish: Rent assistance and holiday gifts for the boys. Rent for six months is estimated to be $6,000. Toys for the two boys are estimated to be $500.
    • Contact: Lissette Valdes-Valle, 305-377-5055 *331, or Lissette_Valdes-Valle@dcf.state.fl.us.