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Local needy receive a ‘sweet surprise

DRIFTWOOD KEY — It started with a simple request for oranges and candy.

Since Kingston Food Bank Director Vi Weaver asked for those two items in 1995, a group of Driftwood Key residents called the Sweet Surprise Committee has been making sure local families get oranges and candy — and much more — during the holidays.

The effort started nine years ago when Norm and Dottie Sunde asked Weaver what they could do to help out at Christmastime. Weaver said she was never able to get oranges and candy for the children who relied on the food bank.

The Sundes rallied their friends and neighbors together to collect money for oranges and food but decided to go a step further and seek donations of toys, gifts and clothing as well.

In the first year, $500 was collected. Last year, the committee gathered $2,000 and helped 67 families. However, they had enough money left over from the holiday to spend on donations to the bank throughout 2003.

“It just grew and grew and grew,” Dottie said about the funding history.

She makes sure that the money is spent strictly on food, excluding candy, which is donated. Of the sweet treats that are provided, committee members always make sure to counteract the effort.

“We always feel if we are going to give them candy, we are going to give them toothbrushes,” Dottie said.

And everyone gets a bag of goodies, including a candy cane.

“Every child, adult and senior gets their bag, no matter what,” Dottie said.

Weaver also gives the Sweet Surprises Committee a list of her clients’ ages, so the group knows how much and what type of gifts to collect. Gifts this year include flannel shirts for older men and homemade Barbie doll clothes for little girls.

The three tables of gift items at the Driftwood Key Clubhouse Dec. 17 were all donated by residents, Dottie said.

“It’s just absolutely amazing how much people care,” she said.

The clothes and toys were packed up and taken to Weaver’s home Dec. 17. Food, including meat, pie crusts, cauliflower and oranges, were taken to the food bank.

“It’s such a wonderful feeling to take all this food down to Vi’s,” Dottie said.

Tasha Davis, a Driftwood Key resident, has been participating the past several years.

“It’s in the Christmas spirit,” she said.

While most of members of the group are retired, 18-year-old Sam Barrett is the youngest one of them all this year. He has been participating off and on since he was nine years old.

“It’s cool,” Barrett said. “It’s for people who need it and I like to do it.”By TIFFANY ROYAL

Staff Writer

DRIFTWOOD KEY — It started with a simple request for oranges and candy.

Since Kingston Food Bank Director Vi Weaver asked for those two items in 1995, a group of Driftwood Key residents called the Sweet Surprise Committee has been making sure local families get oranges and candy — and much more — during the holidays.

The effort started nine years ago when Norm and Dottie Sunde asked Weaver what they could do to help out at Christmastime. Weaver said she was never able to get oranges and candy for the children who relied on the food bank.

The Sundes rallied their friends and neighbors together to collect money for oranges and food but decided to go a step further and seek donations of toys, gifts and clothing as well.

In the first year, $500 was collected. Last year, the committee gathered $2,000 and helped 67 families. However, they had enough money left over from the holiday to spend on donations to the bank throughout 2003.

“It just grew and grew and grew,” Dottie said about the funding history.

She makes sure that the money is spent strictly on food, excluding candy, which is donated. Of the sweet treats that are provided, committee members always make sure to counteract the effort.

“We always feel if we are going to give them candy, we are going to give them toothbrushes,” Dottie said.

And everyone gets a bag of goodies, including a candy cane.

“Every child, adult and senior gets their bag, no matter what,” Dottie said.

Weaver also gives the Sweet Surprises Committee a list of her clients’ ages, so the group knows how much and what type of gifts to collect. Gifts this year include flannel shirts for older men and homemade Barbie doll clothes for little girls.

The three tables of gift items at the Driftwood Key Clubhouse Dec. 17 were all donated by residents, Dottie said.

“It’s just absolutely amazing how much people care,” she said.

The clothes and toys were packed up and taken to Weaver’s home Dec. 17. Food, including meat, pie crusts, cauliflower and oranges, were taken to the food bank.

“It’s such a wonderful feeling to take all this food down to Vi’s,” Dottie said.

Tasha Davis, a Driftwood Key resident, has been participating the past several years.

“It’s in the Christmas spirit,” she said.

While most of members of the group are retired, 18-year-old Sam Barrett is the youngest one of them all this year. He has been participating off and on since he was nine years old.

“It’s cool,” Barrett said. “It’s for people who need it and I like to do it.”

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