By ANDREA GALABINSKI
Last year, Oma's Heart, Inc. a non-profit organization in Cape Coral, helped provide Christmas gifts for 500 local families, including more than 800 children.
This year, they hope to do even more in the Cape, and expand to North Fort Myers.
"The ultimate goal of Oma's Heart is to provide Christmas gifts to financially struggling families," said Executive Director/Founder Audrey McFalls. "With our current economic crisis, more and more families are struggling to provide Christmas gifts for their children."
How did they do it?
If You Go:
Oma's Heart "No Run Poker Run"
and outdoor fund raiser
Bikers meet Harley-Davidson/Buell of Fort Myers, 2160 Colonial Blvd.
Kick stands up at 9:30 a.m.
to go to Club Square in Cape Coral
Public can go directly to event
Saturday, July 21
9:30 a.m. for run
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Southeast 47th Terrace
and Southeast 10th Place
Cost and information
$15 a hand for poker
Event no charge, encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy
email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We opened a toy store for one day; scheduling 65 families to shop every two hours for a 12 hour-span," she said. "With toys still being donated, we were also able to provide gifts for the Lee County Head Start program, a local organization that provides services to Parents with Down's Syndrome children, churches, military families and a homeless community."
This year, the organization will add an additional shopping day and expand to help North Fort Myers children and families.
McFalls explained how the organization got its name.
"It was very simple to come up with this name. Oma refers to my mother, which is Dutch for grandmother. My mother dedicated her life to children, so when Oma's Heart was established, the name was perfect."
She said to reach their new goal, they need to start fund raising now.
"We're encouraging people to come to our fund raisers as we are seven months into the year," McFalls said. "Now push comes to shove, and we need to get cash or toys for our store in December."
A "No Run Poker Run" and outdoor fund raiser for all will take place Saturday, July 21.
Bikers will meet Harley-Davidson Buell of Fort Myers, 2160 Colonial Boulevard. Kick stands go up at 9:30 a.m. and they will go to Club Square in Cape Coral. Club Square is at Southeast 47th Terrace and Southeast 10th Place.
The public can go directly to event, which is being sponsored by several area businesses there.
Anyone can attend the event that will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
It's $15 a hand for poker. The event has no charge, but everyone is encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy.
"Our sponsors are Dixie Roadhouse, La Terraza 47 Restaurant and Rack'em Billiards. A huge parking lot behind the businesses will be the spot where we will will have games, prizes, music, food and a dunk tank. Dixie's is providing some special drinks, La Terraza 47 is helping with the food and Rack'em is providing music."
All money raised will go toward their Christmas store, that will be at the Kiwanis Club on Santa Barbara Boulevard. "We're going to have an open house there Thursday, Dec. 6, and it actually will be open Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8."
Of the expansion to North Fort Myers, she said, "Last year we were trying to stay in Cape Coral but then we discovered North Fort Myers did not have many services available to the families."
In late September and early October they will be in Cape Coral and North Fort Myers locations to be announced to sign up families.
"Families shop at the store, and kids will also shop for mom and dad. Last year it was incredible, with so many smiles and tears and great stories. And no one took advantage of the opportunity."
A second big event they are promoting is a The Great River Duck Race at Sun Splash Family Waterpark to be held Saturday, Sept. 15, with the race itself at 5 p.m. We're imagining several thousands ducks floating down the lazy river and we're going to have cash prizes. Also, Diamondhead Beach Resort has graciously donated three days and two nights, and we have Legoland Florida and Disney tickets." She said more information is to come.
After being started in her living room, the organization now has 10 board members and roughly 40 volunteers who have worked very hard to make it successful.
"You can always to our website omasheart.org, or call or email me for more information." Her number is 989-6718 and email is email@example.com.