Thousands of excited children, filled with the holiday spirit, were ready to go.
At 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 11, they began—grabbing bags and filling them with goodies as fast as they could.
They weren’t grabbing gifts for themselves, however.
They were packing bags full of groceries for children in the free and reduced lunch programs in St. Johns and Duval Counties schools. As volunteers for the eighth annual Furyk Foundation “Hope for the Holidays” program, the kids and teens who packed bags under a lighted tent at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse parking lot—in organized, cheerful, assembly-line-fashion—came from around Ponte Vedra and the Beaches, as individuals and with school and sports groups.
After each volunteer filled their bag with 16 items of food, including canned ham and boxed and packaged goods, they carried it to a line of tractor trailer trucks, where other volunteers loaded the bags for delivery to 32 different area schools.
Then they went back to the beginning of the line and grabbed another bag.
“It’s amazing how fast it goes,” said champion golfer Jim Furyk, who founded the foundation 10 years ago with his wife, Tabitha. “This teaches kids about giving back and helping other folks.”
“It’s very exciting to be able to feed so many families,” Tabitha Furyk said. “This year we are going to feed 4,000.” In addition, she expected they would have enough food left over to donate to other area charities helping children. “We have volunteers from everywhere. Including lacrosse teams, basketball teams, cheerleaders,” she said. “It’s about kids helping kids.”
Tabitha Furyk said the idea came from when her children were little, and she and her husband wanted to teach them in a hands-on way how good it felt to help others. “Rather than just donate a $5 bill, I wanted them to do the work.”
Nine-year old Quinn Luther of Nocatee came with her mother and older sister, who came with her basketball team. Quinn was all smiles as she packed her first bag.
“It was really cute,” her mother, Eva Luther, said. Quinn didn’t have to come, but she wanted to.
“I said, ‘let’s just let the older girls do this,’” Eva Luther said. But Quinn insisted on participating, saying, “I really want to do this.”
So, as soon as Quinn finished filling her first bag, she hustled back to the beginning of the line. And got to work filling her second.