Every holiday season, generous members of our community are finding ways to give back. Read this story by LSS Case Manager Sean Hammond about how local realtor Debbie Tufts uses her annual Christmas party to help those in need.

In October 2011, while out to lunch with my parents, we happened upon the office of Keller Williams Atlantic Partners out at Jacksonville Beach. For the past several months I had been searching online for my first home without any luck, so I thought we would take a chance and see what listings they might have that day.

The office was seemingly empty and we were concerned that someone had accidentally left the door unlocked when out from the back offices came a wonderfully cheery lady who introduced herself as Debbie and asked how she could be of service. She is one of those people you can instantly connect to; warm, inviting and down-to-earth with a gift for making connections on a personal level from the very moment you meet her. She was instrumental in helping me find the home where I still live today and she has been a friend to me ever since.

It just so happens that the year before we met she had started doing something new at her annual Christmas party, which she called her “Jingle Jam” party. She started asking her guests to bring donations of jam, jelly or peanut butter to give to those who are in need this time of year. In the course of our home scouting sessions, I had mentioned to her that I am involved with LSS’ Ryan White food pantry in my role as a case manager.

In December of 2012, she called and asked if LSS would accept the donation of food from her little gathering. I gratefully accepted and was happy to be able to add to the bounty of food on our pantry shelves. Little did she know that donations made this time of year are especially appreciated as we work to make sure everyone can enjoy the holidays. In LSS, she had found the perfect partner to help distribute her and her friends’ donations to community members quickly and effectively.

This tradition is still going strong after 7 years, bringing joy and fulfillment to all who donate as well as those who receive. I want to acknowledge her and make sure she knows how much her gracious and giving spirit is appreciated. Thank you to my friend Debbie Tufts and her many friends that have donated over the years for their continued support of the community here at LSS.