Jaguars Bring Christmas Cheer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Its as close to a white Christmas as Florida can get.

Thousands of white plastic bags filled with food and gifts blanketed the grass of a city park in Jacksonville, Florida this month, creating a visual winter wonderland of blessing.

For the last 10 years, this one-day community event has been helping struggling families with food and gifts for the Christmas holidays, thanks to Operation Blessings partnership with NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Winn Dixie and Wachovia.

Its such a positive way to have an impact on the most needy in our community, said Holly Cleveland, director of community affairs at Wachovia. This is the single largest event that I manage throughout the year and to see the amount of the work that gets done in a 5-hour period is absolutely incredible and everyone has a great time doing it.

More than 250 volunteers came out to help with the event, including former alumni players with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The community is part of us so were extremely fortunate to have an opportunity to come out and participate in an event like this, said Bryan Barker, a punter with the Jaguars from 2000-2005.

But the real blessings of the event were felt by the recipients.

More than 3,000 families received bags of canned goods, drinks, produce and more, as well as gift bags for children containing books, dolls and special toys.

For Tamara, this event was the only way she would be able to have a Christmas for her two young sons.

Its been a hard year financially, weve had some illnesses and sickness in the family so moneys been tight and hasnt quite been there and its not there for Christmas, she said.

We were trying to see where we could get some help to make sure the kids have something to open this Christmas. Its all worth it to see their faces and them

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