The purpose of the Sanibel-Captiva Optimist Club is to develop optimism as a philosophy of life in utilizing the tenets of the Optimist Creed; its mission is to to bring out the best in kids.
To follow that mission, the San-Cap Optimist Club hosts several activities geared toward children, such as the Junior Anglers and granting scholarships to local college students.
On Dec. 1, the community is invited to walk or run along Sanibel's Bowman's Beach in the 5K "Jingle Bell Walk" to benefit local children's needs. This year, registration donations of $20 per person will help children who are served by Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) of Sanibel, as well as help fund the college scholarships.
"We hope to raise enough money for F.I.S.H. with a little extra funds left over to fund our six scholarships," said John Jones, member of the Optimist board of directors. "These scholarships help Lee County students with at least half from Sanibel and Captiva."
The Jingle Bell Walk originally was the "Wave of Hope" beach walk. Dogs that participated in previous Wave of Hope walks have barked loudly about the fun and are straining at their leashes to romp on the beautiful Sanibel beach during the Jingle Walk, all for a great claus.
"Santa will make an appearance on the beach," said Jones. "We will also have a raffle at the recreation center following the walk, which also benefits families, particularly children, served by F.I.S.H."
After the Jingle Bell Walk, the City of Sanibel Recreation Center will hold a free block party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. open to everyone in celebration of the 5th anniversary of the recreation center. It has partnered with the Optimist Club in the Junior Anglers and the children's basketball league.
"The rec center has been very important to our club," said Jones. "They join us in teaching children how to bait hooks in Junior Anglers during the summer, as well as teaching them how to play basketball."
Registration for the Jingle Walk begins at 7:30 a.m. at the beach. Parking is free of charge for participants, as are T-shirts, water and refreshments. Children 10 years or younger and leashed pets can participate free of charge. Start walking anytime between 8 and 9 a.m.
The mission of F.I.S.H. is to lend a helping hand to those in need who live, work or visit Sanibel and Captiva by providing free services, such as transportation, food pantry, meal delivery, health equipment and emergency financial assistance through a large group of caring volunteers.