This week’s poor weather conditions may have forced the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation to change venues for its annual “Hope for the Holidays” event, but it didn’t stop the charitable organization from ultimately helping those in need once again.
For the sixth year in a row, the Ponte Vedra-based foundation organized a group of community volunteers to pack bags of food for underprivileged, First Coast children to ensure they don’t go hungry over the holiday school break. With initial plans to hold the event in the TPC Sawgrass parking lot, Mother Nature had other plans, forcing the organization to relocate its efforts indoors to the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall within 48 hours of the packing initiative.
“I was driving here today in the rain and actually started crying because it’s just amazing how many people have come into play to make this happen,” said Tabitha Furyk before the Dec. 7 event. “The PGA Tour, their employees, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall just to give us the facility. And then, just all day we’ve been receiving donations to help us pay for these bags.”
The foundation ultimately packed over 3,500 bags filled with canned ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, special treats like hot cocoa and more. In 2011, the organization packed 500 bags of food when the inaugural event was held.
“There has been a lot of growth that’s been due to a lot of support from our community,” said PGA Tour golfer Jim Furyk. “It’s been a real fun project.”
The packing process at the holiday event began with volunteers grabbing a red bag and then moving down the line to fill it with one of each food item. After collecting each of the items, volunteers then ended the process by tying the bag and placing it with the others, which were soon lifted into the back of a truck. The Furyks emphasize that this experience provides families, especially local kids, with an opportunity to truly understand what it’s like to give during the holidays.
“A hands-on, touch and feel, bag a bag and know that they’re doing something to help another child,” said Tabitha Furyk. “Knowing that the need is increasing in our community for kids that are food insecure and all of the people who come out to pack the bags and how important it is to them just means the world to us.”
This year’s recipients of the food include students at 23 schools in Duval and St. Johns counties in the First Coast Blessings in a Backpack Program, which is a nonprofit organization that provides consistent weekend nutrition for children on the federal free and reduced meal program. Since these students rely on the schools’ subsidized meals, they usually don’t have enough food at home to eat during the holiday break. Data provided by Feeding Northeast Florida reports there are 81,660 children in the area who are unsure of where the next meal will come from and the foundation said it has certainly seen the need increasing each year.
The foundation also distributed food to the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, Hugs across the County, Anthony J Stinson Association for Change, Hubbard House and Community PedsCare, along with other smaller organizations requesting assistance. Funds for the food and the event were raised during the annual Furyk & Friends Concert and Celebrity Golf Classic as well as from donations from PepsiCo.
The Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation was created in 2010 to help children and families in need. Visit https://jimandtabithafurykfoundation.com/ for more information.