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Palmona Park seeks donations to help Santa

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Nov 25, 2020


Many kids at Suncoast Estates look forward to Santa coming to visit every year around Christmas. Now, another area in North Fort Myers is waiting to experience the same joy.

Palmona Park will have a visit from Santa on Saturday, Dec. 19, thanks to the work of the North Fort Myers Civic Association, which has helped to expand the program this year.

The Suncoast Santa event will be held the following day, on Dec. 20.

The NFMCA is looking for individuals and companies to donate funding or unwrapped toys for children 18 and under who might not have a gift-filled Christmas otherwise.

And so far, local companies have risen to the challenge, according to Christy-Lee Iwanow of the NFMCA who is handling the program.

Iwanow said the idea is to make this an event for the entire community, not just for one particular section.

“We are collecting unwrapped toys for children under 18 years old. I’ve reached out to local businesses to see if they want to host their own toy drive and we’ve had two already sign up for that,” Iwanow said.

Among the companies helping out is Papa John’s Pizza at 13971 N. Cleveland Ave. which will hold a fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 2 to 5 p.m., featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, face-painting, a bounce house and raffles.

It will donate $5 for every pizza if you mention the North Fort Myers Santa between Dec. 1 to 5. The money raised will be split between Palmona Park and Suncoast.

The NFMCA is also printing $10 tickets for a medium pizza with one topping, with $5 of that going toward NFM Santa.

The North Fort Myers Monday night Cruise-In at the Merchants Crossing Shopping Center will hold a Toy Drive every Monday on Nov. 30, as well as Dec. 7 and 14, from 4 to 8 p.m. Those who donate get a raffle ticket per toy they donate.

Iwanow said the Suncoast Santa has been happening for years, and that she had donated to it last year (and even used the benches Iwanow had donated as drop-off points) when the idea came to her to include Palmona Park.

Unlike Suncoast, which is too large for Santa to visit everyone, he will be able to go down every street on Palmona Park, with the route ending at the NFMCA bench off Stockton Road.

Iwanow said by expanding the Santa program, they can give gifts to the roughly 400 children who live in the area. Fliers will be handed out to residents there to get a better grasp on the exact number of children in Palmona Park.

“We wanted to make this a larger community event. I’m hoping this is the largest giveaway we have for the entire year,” Iwanow said. “With COVID, nobody has even begun to think about Christmas or where they will get the money for it.”

Toys also can be dropped off at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N. Recreation Way, Liberty Tax and Signarama.

For more information, contact Iwanow at 200-3287 or go to www.NFMCivic.com.