Salvation Army Angel Tree Program helped struggling families provide gifts for children

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On December 18th, The Salvation Army of Miami distributed thousands of toys donated through its annual Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, which provides Christmas assistance for disadvantaged children across the country. The work started in mid-September with the challenges of safely making this happen during the pandemic. They successfully set up on-line registrations for the Angel Tree Program for donors to give and where qualifying families could sign up their children to receive gifts. Angel Trees were also placed at area malls, online, and businesses in support of The Salvation Army and included paper angel tags with the children’s information on them. Kudos to Major Roy Williams, Area Commander for The Salvation Army of Miami and all the volunteers. This year, more than 3,000 children in the Miami area will enjoy opening presents on Christmas morning thanks to our generous community.

Yet another great annual toy drive revolved around a huge holiday party at the home of Belinda and Scott Sime. Since having the annual party where the Simes would typically collect hundreds of toys, the couple sent invitations for a toy drop off event on December 12. It worked beautifully and, once again, hundreds of toys were collected and delivered to the children at Miami Lighthouse for the Blind where Scott serves on the board. Donors like the Simes continue to make the best of our current situation and make miracles happen. May God bless them all.

In more good news for the Coral Gables Children’s Dental Clinic, 1st Empire Elite Financial and EZ Title Services joined forces to sponsor Coral Gables Woman’s Club’s Gringo Bingo on December 15 and raising over $1,000 for the club’s free children’s dental clinic. The event, hosted every month by Clutch Burger, was held outside with COVID protocols in place. As always, it was a fun evening with lots of great prizes. Among those attending were Elizabeth Gamez-Vazquez, Santiago Ramos, Keith Fekete, Walter Alvarez, Kim Davison, Ruth Martinez, Dr. Brittany Holliday, and Eli Jimenez.

In yet another effort to make the holidays special for the patients of the club dental clinic, Coral Gables Hospital’s CEO Cristina Jimenez and her staff personally donated gift cards that the Coral Gables Woman’s Club gives to patients. This has been something the hospital has done for several years and was especially important this year. Typically, CGWC has a big party, but COVID issues made that impossible this year; so, the gift cards were even more important for these children of the working poor. With just a few weeks notice, the hospital staff managed to collect $535 in $15 gift cards for the children. For an overworked staff that are heroes in their own right, their generosity was even more appreciated by Dental Clinic Director Dr. Iris Torres and Club President Ruth Martinez, who was able to thank the staff in person.

Food distribution have continued all over Miami-Dade County at Tamiami Park and other locations. On December 17, Coral Gables Woman’s Club provided there clubhouse as a placed for celebrity Chef Chris Valdes to prepare thousands of meals that were donated to multiple organizations who came by to pick up boxes of prepared meals. With COVID protocols in place, a few club members joined the effort donning masks and gloves and helping package the meals for pick up.

Finally, Gloria Gab LIVE Show resumed December 15th with Junior Orange Bowl Past President and long time JOBC Basketball Chair, Chuck Little. Despite the challenges of COVID concerns, the Jr. Orange Bowl Classic was held the last week in December at Westminster Christian with schools participating, both boys and girls, from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Unfortunately, as the tournament began, the boys championship had to be canceled because of COVID but the girls teams provided a great finish with Pompano Blanche Ely playing a tight game and defeating Miami Christian School by 6 points. As of this writing, the JOBC Golf Invitational is in full swing with some record breaking golf.

Kudos to the JOBC chairs, members and volunteers for continuing to make the best of a challenging season and to JOBC President Steven Gonzalez who was my guest for Gloria’s Gab LIVE on January 11. Look for the show at

Until next time, keep making each day count, please share an act of kindness every day and stay safe.

Wishing all of our readers a very Happy New Year!!

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A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel , non profit consulting and management. Before joining Miami's Community Newspapers as a columnist and marketing specialist, Gloria was the Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee (6 yrs.) and first Executive Director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation (14 yrs.) and the Pinecrest Community Foundation (1 ½ yrs) . Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist for Community Newspapers writing Gloria’s Gab, that focuses on the non-profit activity, and a host of an online show, Gloria's Gab LIVE. Gloria serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables as Civic and Charity Chair, and is involved in the club's International Committee. She is an active Life Member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee and is Secretary of the Merrick Festival. She serves on the board of directors of the Coral Gables Woman' Club as Publicity Chair and also coordinates the club's monthly fundraiser for various charities with Gringo Bingo at Clutch Burger. In addition, Gloria participates in numerous other charitable events and is a member of the Business Forum Group, Profit Inc., the Greater Miami Festival & Events Association and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. In other volunteer activity, Gloria helps Miami Christian School with fund-raising and PR; is an Ambassador and volunteers for events for A Safe Haven for Newborns. She is an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where she enjoys singing in the choir every weekend.