Hope for the Holidays

More than 900 toys, including bicycles, were donated for needy children on St. Croix and St. Thomas during the annual Holiday Hope event Thursday night at the Palms at Pelican Cove.

The event was hosted by the Palms, the Chamber of Commerce and the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association. Fran Geocaris and Julie Printy, Palms general manager, organized the event and filled the lobby and dining room of the hotel with dazzling decorations. Tables of food and drinks were available and Jazzy Blue provided music. A silent and live auction raised additional funds for charities.

More than 100 people dressed for the holidays mingled and enjoyed the evening after donating $40 or two gifts at the door.

Every year, several U.S. Marines fly over from Puerto Rico to deliver toys they have collected or bought. This year, they came bearing around 800 gifts, piled around the huge Christmas tree in the hotel lobby and in the dining room.

Shortly before the live auction, members of the St. Croix Volkswagen Club pulled into the hotel entrance and unloaded 14 bicycles topped with big red bows. Earlier, Governor-elect Kenneth Mapp sent a representative with five bikes and other gifts.

On Friday, the Marines delivered toys and 11 bikes to the Boys and Girls Club and met the children at the Christiansted after-school program. Director Neal Canton said the gifts will be divided between the two St. Croix clubs and the St. Thomas club — for about 150 children. The bikes will be raffled by age group, so everyone will have a chance to win, he said.

“The kids look forward to the Christmas party. A few have a minimal Christmas if any at all. We’re glad to have gifts for all of them,” Canton said.

Half of the funds raised at Holiday Hope support the Boys and Girls Club after-school programs and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for their legal assistance program for abused or neglected children.

The other half of the money raised at the event supports the Richard Patrick Henry Scholarship program for college students majoring in hospitality or marketing. Last year, Holiday Hope made $15,000 and scholarship grants were awarded to six students who maintained a 3.5 grade point average.

The Boys and Girls Clubs and CASA. along with Catholic Charities, Charles Harwood Hospital, Lighthouse Mission, Mission Outreach, My Brother’s Table, Red Cross and Women’s Coalition will receive toys for their clients and client’s children.

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