Every month, members of the Marine Corps League's Morris F. Dixon Detachment 54 provide breakfast to residents of Pinellas Hope, a program in mid-Pinellas that provides shelter for the homeless.
Recently, while flipping pancakes and pouring coffee, it occurred to the detachment's commandant, John Piazza Jr., that action could be taken to satisfy the appearance as well as the appetite of those being served.
So in the spirit of the season, approximately 250 gift bags containing small but helpful items such as tooth brushes, soap, hand lotion, mini flash lights and bite-size candy bars were distributed Dec. 21.
Piazza said the cost of an endeavor like this would normally be paid for by the detachment, but in this case he and his wife Rosemary, dentist Charles Bonham, the management of a local Walgreens, the staff of Largo's Armed Forces Museum and several other donors all contributed to the project.
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In mid December, the Top of the Bay Kiwanis Club Christmas Crew visited three Head Start classes in Clearwater and two in Tarpon Springs. Members distributed gift bags that included books, and kids got the chance to meet Santa Claus.
During the year, Top of the Bay club members read weekly to these classes, with Goodwill Industries supplying all the books. The children get to keep the books.
Filling Santa's boots in Clearwater was Eddy Tamayo, director of development for Keiser University in Tampa, and in Tarpon Springs it was Chuck Winscott, U.S. Coast Guard veteran.
Both were assisted by Top of the Bay Kiwanis Club elves.
Kiwanis is dedicated to community service and helping kids. For more information, visit topofthebaykiwanis.org.
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