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‘Helping Hands for the Holidays’ still accepting donations

December 20, 2018
By MEGHAN BRADBURY (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The 20th annual Helping Hands for the Holidays fundraiser is in need of the community's support to help reach its $39,000 goal.

As of Tuesday afternoon they had raised a little more than $35,000, meaning organizers are $3,788.51 shy of their target.

Those who would like to make a donation can do so at teamaubuchon.com.

Helping Hands for the Holiday first began as a Holiday House where one of the Aubuchon Homes models was decorated and opened throughout the month as a way to passively raise money for charity in 1999. When Aubuchon Team of Companies moved into its headquarters in 2002, the Holiday House transformed into Helping Hands for the Holidays, which this year was held on Monday, Nov. 19.

"Helping Hands for the Holidays is a charity fundraising event for three local groups - Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida, Make-A-Wish Southern Florida and Builder's Care," Shannan O'Brien, director of marketing said. "What we try to do is split the money equally that we raise between the three local organizations."

The three organizations provide assistance for children, those with disabilities and older residents.

Make-A-Wish Special Events Coordinator Emily Sumpmann said the funds that they receive from Aubuchon goes directly to granting wishes. They take those funds and help grant life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

"Over the last decade they have raised over $100,000 for us," Sumpmann said.

On average, a wish costs about $6,000, so the money donated to the organization over the last decade has granted around 20 wishes.

If a child is diagnosed with a critical illness they are referred to Make-A-Wish. Volunteers visit the family at their home and interview them, get to know them, and find out their heart-felt wish.

"We get it approved by the doctor to make sure it is a safe wish for them," she said, adding that the top wishes are "I wish to go... I wish to have... I wish to be... I wish to meet..."

Helping Hands for the Holidays has also had a significant impact on Lee Builders Care, which provides "emergency construction services at no cost to needy and deserving elderly and/or disabled homeowners, and their families, who cannot obtain repairs through traditional means."

Executive Director Becky Swist said the money donated to the organization is put towards some of the projects that older homeowners, or homeowners with disabilities, need help with.

"We are very appreciative for the continued support. They have supported us to provide these emergency services for the elderly and disabled," she said. "What they normally raise is huge and significant."

The donation to the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida has gone to such programs as the Ronald McDonald House, the Care Mobile program and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Golisano Children's Hospital.

"We have certainly enjoyed the generosity of Team Aubuchon. The proceeds have really helped us to sustain, and in some cases, expand our programs," Executive Director Laura Ragain said.

The Ronald McDonald House, which is located close to the Golisano Children's Hospital, typically serves 125 families annually at the house. She said the majority of the families have babies that came into the world a little bit early and have to spend time in NICU.

"They can be here from a couple of days to several months," Ragain said, adding that the families are welcome to stay as long as their child is at the hospital.

The Care Mobile program now operates in Collier, Lee and Hendry counties. The second Care Mobile, which was launched at the beginning of 2018, has seen more than 5,000 children.

The Ronald McDonald Room is a 1,000-square-foot space on the second floor of the Golisano Children's Hospital, which opened last year.

"The Family Room has seen an incredible amount of traffic," she said, adding that it is open seven days a week as long as they have a volunteer there.

The space provides a living room and dining room, an opportunity for parents to grab a sandwich, a cup of coffee, either in the room, or to take back to their children's room.

"We are so grateful for this wonderful partnership that we have enjoyed for so many years and how much it means to the families we serve," Ragain said.

The Nov. 19 event attracted close to 300 people who enjoyed a night of food, music and making donations.

"It's really opened my eyes to the impact that one company can have on one community. This is my first year here at Team Aubuchon," she said.

O'Brien said the event took the whole company's effort of putting it together. She said some of their Realtors and employees volunteered to serve food, drinks and help with Santa Claus.

"It was a fun time. Everybody really came together and made it happen and made it flawless," O'Brien said. "The end result is we raised all this money to give back to these three organizations."

 
 
 

 

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