IN THE VILLAGES: My Favorite Charitable Organizations

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This time of year charitable organizations need our help more than ever. Food pantry shelves need to be restocked, children’s clothing and toys need to be distributed, and the lonely need companionship—the list goes on and on.

I’ve had the honor of interviewing many area volunteers who have given so much of themselves to nonprofits, Villages groups, and church organizations. It has been a humbling experience to say the least. Because it’s the holiday season, I thought it appropriate to highlight several of my favorites.

I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Krupski, founder of LovExtension, a nonprofit whose volunteers (some of them Villagers) run errands, offer up much-needed hugs, and regularly visit area seniors with limited mobility. Birthday cakes and small gifts are frequently purchased and birthday parties organized for those who have no one to help celebrate their birthdays. If you would like to donate time, items, or money to LovExtension, please call 352-669-1121 or visit their website at www.LovExtension.com.

Scores of women belonging to The Giving Doll Organization of The Villages meet bi-weekly to make dolls for children who are in need or are at risk. The dolls are often distributed by local law enforcement personnel, hospitals, or social services organizations. Every section of cloth, every strand of yarn, and every piece of stuffing is infused with love. Although Giving Doll cannot take on any new volunteers, I am recognizing this caring group of women for their continued support of children at risk.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of veterans over the years, and I’m always amazed at their stories, their love of country, and their sacrifices. Perhaps that’s why organizations that support our vets tug at my heart more than any other. Here are just two of my favorites: Honor Flight (www.villageshonorflight.org) provides trips to Washington, D.C., so veterans can visit their own veteran memorial. Villagers for Veterans (www.villagersforveterans.org) organizes fundraisers to purchase all-terrain track chairs for critically injured veterans and to support other veteran initiatives. Both of these organizations have made a difference in many veterans’ lives.

Villagers are known for their compassion, their big hearts, and their generosity. Villagers continue to make a difference in peoples’ lives, not only during the holidays, but every day of the year.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for that.


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