Rotaract, Rotary Club conduct holiday toy drive for Children’s Home Society at Alhambra’s ‘A Christmas Story’


The Alhambra Theatre & Dining’s sold-out production of “A Christmas Story” provided a fitting backdrop for the Beaches Rotaract Club’s second annual holiday toy drive last week.

The beloved tale of 9-year-old Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas echoed the toy drive for children in need, as the Alhambra lobby was filled with hundreds of toys and gifts of clothing, blankets and other necessities for donation to the Children’s Home Society of Florida. The gifts were donated by Beaches Rotaract members, who joined with members of the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach Dec. 8 to make the toy drive the focus of the clubs’ joint holiday outing to the Alhambra.

In addition to offering adoption and counseling services, the Children’s Home Society (CHS) provides foster care and services for neglected and abused children.

Rotaract Club member Rachael Daven – who who organized the Alhambra event in collaboration with MJ DeNardo of the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach and a team of volunteers from both clubs – noted that CHS has more than 1,200 children in their program who were in need of Christmas gifts as well as basic clothing and hygiene items.

“Our (Rotaract) club wanted to make a special emphasis on helping these children this year,” said Daven, adding that The CSI Companies sponsored the event and gift drive. “Many of the children they pick up have nothing but what they are wearing. They really touched our hearts and we wanted to do something for this special group of children.”

In addition to the toy drive, the event featured raffles and a live auction conducted by Alhambra Managing Partner Craig Smith that featured Jaguars tickets, wine baskets, gift certificates, weekend getaways and more.

CHS Charitable Giving Director Myra Martinez thanked attendees for their support of the organization’s mission.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “We could not do what we do if it wasn’t for groups like Rotaract and Rotary.”

Those sentiments were echoed by the Alhambra’s Smith, who said he was pleased the dinner theatre was able to host the Rotary event.

“When I bought the Alhambra I realized there was so much we could do to help others,” Smith said. “Rotary taught me ‘service above self.’”