The holiday spirit is alive and well in the West Orange County business community.
The business community, especially in prosperous times, is willing and able to give to those who need help most. As is the case with individuals, West Orange County businesses are not immune to the charms and spirit of the holiday season, and giving is even more evident at this time. The business community pays it forward and because of some wonderful partnerships, the West Orange Foundation and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce have opportunities for generosity to flourish.
For many years now, the chamber and its members have participated in several activities at the onset of the holiday season, with the support of volunteer time, energy and money. One of those activities is in partnership with Orange County. Each year, the county identifies families in need through the Maxey, Lila E. Mitchell and Pine Hills Centers. These families receive Thanksgiving baskets filled with seasonal foods and gift cards to be used at Publix and Walmart, which are trustees of the chamber that give to our community in so many ways. In 2018, over 100 families were assisted, and the goal for this year is even greater.
The giving doesn’t stop at Thanksgiving. Our members have contributed hundreds of books to children in West Orange through the very popular, 22-year-old Reading Reindeer program. Books for children of all ages are donated at various gathering points, with the chamber lobby being one of those collection sites. Thousands of children have been served and delighted through this program.
To continue on with the spirit of giving, the chamber’s ambassadors enjoy participating in the Christmas parades for the cities of Ocoee and Winter Garden that occur on the first Saturday of every December. Our ambassadors develop an annual float theme and then ride it along the two parade routes. The joy that they receive in tossing candy and beads to the children fills their hearts. It is a tradition they truly look forward to every year. They’ve even won awards throughout the years for their creativity and spirit.
Our current ambassadors, some of the most generous people I have ever met, will also be in full force at the chamber’s Member Celebration Brunch. This holiday-themed event celebrates our members and is a perfect end to a business year. The celebration will be at the new Ocoee Lakeshore Center, the home of Best Fest. More to come on this event next month!