Cape Coral organization provides over 400 families with Christmas presents

POSTED Tue, 12/13/2011 – 2:00am | POSTED BY Jeff Koehn

Oma’s Heart has a mission of helping Cape Coral families at Christmas Time.

This past weekend their goal became a reality, as they provided Christmas presents to Cape Coral families in need during the holiday season.

Partnering with the Cape Coral Kiwanis and the Cape Coral YMCA, Oma’s Heart provided Christmas presents to over 400 Cape Coral families this past Saturday.

Founded by Audrey McFalls, Oma’s Heart provides local parents with the ability to provide their children with Christmas presents.

Oma’s Heart is named after McFalls mother, who dedicated her life to children. After Oma’s passing in 1999, McFalls decided to create an organization that helped those in need to have a joyous Christmas. Unfortunately, the plan did not work out. Fast forward 12 years, seeing the current economic conditions, and feeling the need was there, McFalls started the organization back up in September of 2010.

Since that time, she says the response has been nothing short of resounding. Since restarting the program, such companies as Target and Home Depot have come aboard as sponsors, “We are just blessed. We have had people jump on board from the beginning. It has been absolutely remarkable,” said McFalls.

It was in July of this year that Audrey attended the Kiwanis Christmas in July event. After attending the event and seeing the layout of the building, McFalls called Kiwanis President Sam Huber. McFalls explained the idea of using the hall as a place to have the event. Almost immediately Huber pledged the support of the Cape Coral Kiwanis. Having recently moved into their new home on Santa Barbara Boulevard in North Cape Coral, Huber felt it was a perfect fit, “We want quality events in this building. We could not think of anything more quality than this event and this organization.”

Since that time, the concept has become a true community project. By Friday night, the Kiwanis Hall was packed wall to wall with over 2,500 items for children to choose. Everything from Beanie Babies to bicycles to Wii gaming systems were spread throughout the building waiting to be taken home by a deserving child. Even the cookies were donated. First Christian Church of Cape Coral member Charlie Schnellenberger, who is confined to a wheelchair baked over 4,000 cookies for the occasion.

See photos from Oma’s Heart event at Kiwanis Hall

From Beanie Babies to bicycles to Wii gaming systems, over 2,500 items packed the hall. On Saturday, 400 families including over 600 children came through the building picking out items from their Christmas wish list. The Kiwanis, who had already contributed over 500 items for the cause, took it a step further and offered the first 50 families that showed up on Saturday free one-year memberships to the Cape Coral YMCA, “Anything that we can do to help those in need, we will do. It is the season of giving, and that is what we are here for,” said Huber.

Visiting the hall on Friday night, Cape Coral City Councilman Kevin McGrail could not help but be impressed with what he saw, “Wow! There is going to be some very happy families in Cape Coral this year that will be able to have a joyful Christmas. This group has banished the Grinch, what a great job.”

While this year can be considered an outstanding success both McFalls and Huber note this is only the beginning, “We want to expand in 2012, 400 families are not enough,” said McFalls. “Next year we want to help over 1,000 families,” added Huber.

McFalls says Oma’s Heart will continue to help families in need as long as there are families in need, “Our goal is not to have to do this, but until that time we will be here plugging along.”

To learn more about Oma’s Heart, you can visit their website at www.omasheart.org or call (239) 989-6718.

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