The Biggest Party on the First Coast

By Tina Rymar

For many children on the First Coast, Santa Claus makes a special stop at the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville. Many local families know the holidays can be a particularly difficult time of year. Several parents are unable to give their children gifts, and Christmas can seem bleak for these families when they consider all of their struggles. For this reason, Travis and Margaret Storey founded the Children’s Christmas Party of Jacksonville in 1999, a nonprofit organization that has given presents to thousands of children throughout the years.

Christmas Party 2Every December, companies donate money and toys for the occasion, and volunteers set up a huge party in the Prime F. Osborne III Convention Center. All of this is done to give holiday cheer to thousands of children.

This tradition began when Travis and Margaret Storey, with other volunteers, decided to go to shopping a few months before Christmas and personally buy several toys to be given away. Diane Halverson, executive director of the Children’s Christmas Party, says, “In the earlier years, we did not have enough sponsor employee volunteers to hand out toys from all the toy booths, so we used about 100 local high school students.” Diane herself was inspired by Travis Storey and has been involved in the Christmas Party since 2000. She has served as a volunteer, a board member, a volunteer coordinator, and has been the executive director for the last eight years.

Throughout the years, the event has been a resounding success in helping local families during the holidays.… Read the rest