This holiday season, the employees of Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon (ESC) have been active in adding holiday cheer to the local Pensacola area. Collecting donations from employees and clients from its three locations along the Gulf Coast, ESC has been able to amply supply four major projects that all have special meaning to the firm and its personnel.
This year, Toys for Tots, Florida Guardian ad Litem, C.A. Weis Elementary School, and Escambia County Animal Shelter were among some of the recipients of this holiday cheer.
For more than 20 years, Frieda Bouler, ESC Employee, has spear-headed donations for Toys for Tots on behalf of the Pensacola location of the firm. Collecting hundreds of bikes, helmets, and toys over the years, she shares why she is passionate about making sure each child has a gift under the tree.
“I grew up in a family of seven children and my father was an enlisted man in the Navy and Air Force. There was very little money for extras, but my parents always found a way to make sure we had a special gift for Christmas,” said Freida. “I want every child to have a chance to receive that special gift under their tree.”
Ten bikes, six scooters, all with helmets and pads, and two full boxes of toys were gathered and handed to the Marines in their signature van style. Toys for Tots is a 75-year national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, which provides happiness and hope to less fortunate children during each holiday season. The toys, books, and other gifts collected and distributed by the Marines offer these children recognition and a positive memory for a lifetime.
When the firm learned of the holiday needs of the Northwest Florida Guardian ad Litem, they jumped in and obtained gifts for three of Guardian ad Litem’s foster children through their Angel Tree program. Ensuring these children had many gifts to unwrap this year, the employees shopped to check off the items on their wish lists. The Northwest Florida Guardian ad Litem represents abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the court and community.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Northwest Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation was not sure how we were going to provide Christmas for our foster kids,” said Heather Shearer, Volunteer Guardian. “Then something happened. We needed funds, and the funds miraculously appeared. Every last cent. We needed bikes, and the bikes were provided. We needed sponsors, and the sponsors appeared. Friends, family, and even people that we don’t know have stepped up for these kids. I experienced firsthand, through the adoption of our son, the important role a Guardian ad Litem plays in the lives of foster children. We are always looking for more volunteers, so that every child can be seen, heard and feel loved.”
C.A. Weis Elementary School wanted to provide each second grader with a set of matching pajamas to wear to their grade-level Christmas party, and to take home to wear for the holiday season. ESC was able to supply 15 sets of pajamas in various needed sizes. C.A. Weis Elementary is a community partnership school that strives to be a beacon of hope for students and their families and is deeply rooted in compassionate partnerships that are relevant to the growth of its students’ and community’s well-being.
“We are so incredibly grateful for the continued community support we receive, especially during the holidays,” said Caitlin Newby, Second Grade Teacher. “It means so much to my kids to know that people care about them, despite never having met them. Even seemingly small things like a new pair of pajamas means to world to them.”
This year, 195 dog toys, seven large bags of treats, dog beds, harnesses and leashes, and a puppy sweater were collected and donated to the Escambia County Animal Shelter. Four employees were able to hand-deliver all the items to the shelter and give each dog a new toy as they wait for their forever family. When asked why these employees selected the Escambia County Animal Shelter, their response was more than heartfelt.
“Many people forget that these pups might have been Christmas gifts themselves in the past. As they grew from the sweet puppy they once were to adult dogs, they appear as less of a gift and more of a real responsibility,” said April Golden, ESC Employee. “Let us not forget that these dogs didn’t ask to be separated from their families, or even their toys when they were brought to the shelter. This trip allows us to show them they are loved. The toys are a stress reliever while they wait for their forever homes!”
ESC extends its deepest gratitude to its employees for their involvement in the community this holiday season.