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One hundred and seventy seven lucky island children of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, wore even BIGGER smiles on their faces for the holiday season as their Christmas just got better with the generosity of the community. The Adopt A Bear toy drive was an immense success on its first year that the organizers is already excited for next year’s project.

Adopt A Bear is happy to report the collection of $27,000 in presents that were handed out to 177 children at the San Pedro Lions Den on Wednesday, December 23, 2015. Fifteen of those lucky children even received brand new bicycles. They asked for it, the community delivered.

It was a very cheerful event on gift-giving day as the Adopt A Bear organizers and group of volunteers handed out the gifts. The excitement and smiles on the children’s faces were all what the volunteers needed to know they did a great job. Most of the children on the list were on hand to collect their gifts; those who could not attend will have their gifts delivered to their homes. A hearty lunch was also provided to those who made it to the Lions Den.

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

The woman responsible for all the children's smiles, Brittney O'Daniel, founder Adopt A Bear

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

The project gave the opportunity to island residents and businesses to give a Christmas present to one child who may otherwise not receive one. The children were selected from different organizations throughout the island that included from families who benefit from the Food Bank service, children from Ambergris Caye Elementary School and social services and even the San Pedro Police Department assisted in locating children in other areas of the community that would benefit from the program.

Adopt a Bear Project simply asked interested patrons to select a bear ornament that was inscribed with the name and age of a child who personally wrote down his/her gift wish list. Once the bear was adopted, it was up to the patron to purchase one of the gifts on the list and deliver it wrapped to the organization. Luckily most, if not all, patrons purchased more than one gift from the children’s list.

“It was unbelievable that all 15 children who asked for bicycles got their wish,” commented Brittney O’Daniel who came up and spearheaded Adopt A Bear. “All got amazing presents thanks to the support of our entire community. Thank you to our countless volunteers that put in many hours to organize, wrap, and sit with kids to get the list ready.”

Ambergris Today and the community of San Pedro return the “Thank You” to Brittney for her big heart and altruistic endeavor.

Christmas Cheer Quadrupled by Adopt a Bear Toy Drive

Adopt a Bear and Help a Needy Child Receive Christmas Joy

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

The program was developed and organized by the owner of SandBar Hostel and Restaurant, Brittney O’Daniel, and Kaitlin McWhorter of Project Abroad. Overwhelmed by the show of support, Brittney posted a lengthy ‘Thank You’ note to all the volunteers and sponsors of the program.

“Thank you everyone for making the Adopt A Bear program so incredibly successful this year! We can't wait to do it again next year! We had 177 kids that all got amazing presents thanks to the support of our entire community. I am happy to report we collected $27,000 in presents! Thank you to our countless volunteers that put in many hours to organize, wrap, and sit with kids to get their lists (Karen Brodie, Claire Kennedy, Kaitlin McWHorter, Carlijn Coehorst, Dustin-Jodie Bowen, Denise).

Karen, today would not of happened without you! Our amazing day of volunteers, Susan Traverse Barkhouse, Erica Hayward, Erica Barker, Joe Chung, Joy Knutson, ChiChi Rodriguez, Austin and many others I am forgetting! Santa ( Rob Burrows) and his elves ( Christopher Wright and Ryan Lambert), the amazing Melody S Wolfe for lunch and Nydia Riverol who sent 180 cupcakes from the city! Krista Lee from Canucks for hosting over 20 bears on her tree and spending so many hours collecting gifts, delivering and making sure no one was missed! A special thanks to David Jenkins for letting me turn Sandbar into Santa's workshop and checking in hundreds of gifts!

Most importantly thank you to our hundreds of donors and friends for all of your help adopting and spreading the word! Trevor Del Valle and Jodie Bowen, thank you for taking the trek to the city with me to shop for bikes and toys, and then Trevor thank you for getting all of them greased and re assembled and turning your house into a bike shop to store all 15 of them! Atlantic International, a special thank you for taking 27 bears when i was almost thinking we were never going to get them all adopted, Jorge Reyes.

The biggest thank you possible to the amazing staff at Sandbar San Pedro, you guys tolerate all of my crazy ideas and spend countless hours off the clock helping with every thing that needs to be done everytime! Yaneli Young, Cesar Gonzalez, Lester Castro, no event would be possible without your help, you guys are up until 2am with me wrapping and back up at 6am to load trucks, organize and volunteer day of! Even our security guard spent his night organizing and then volunteering until noon today! Dorian Nunez, Rebecca Coutant, Tamara Sniffin, and Laurie Norton, thank you for helping me spread the word and all of the great press to help get adopters! Colette Kase for letting me know I needed a press release to get the word out and then doing it so quickly for me. Caye Supply, you guys are awesome, you answered my 11pm oh no we are missing 3 bears call and delivered the gifts to lions before the first kid arrived! Lastly, thank you fellow Lions for letting me turn Lions into Santa's village today! I tried to tag all of my adopters in the photos but please tag yourself if it missed you! I will do my best to send you a photo of your kid with gifts next week when we get the photos back from Erica and Karen!!

Christmas Cheer Quadrupled by Adopt a Bear Toy Drive

Christmas Cheer Quadrupled by Adopt a Bear Toy Drive

Christmas Cheer Quadrupled by Adopt a Bear Toy Drive

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

Adopt A Bear Toy Drive delivers gifts to less fortunate children of Ambergris Caye

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