On a hot summer morning, four youth from the Southwind Villas 4Me Teen Health Project Teen Leadership Council set out with a few goals in mind: pick up Christmas presents and meet Santa.
Although it was still months away from December, these Teen Leaders were participating in an annual Christmas in July toy drive for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The teens raised money in their community to purchase and donate the toys which will go to children in the hospital for illnesses or injuries.
The Teen Leadership Council is a six-month component of the 4Me Teen Health Project, a comprehensive sex education program for youth in Northeast Florida. Youth who complete a set of education classes can be selected to move onto the Teen Leadership Council, where they have the opportunity to develop and implement community projects.
The teens from Southwind Villas, a Jacksonville Housing Authority complex on the Southside of Jacksonville, chose several projects, including the Christmas in July event. They raised $119 by selling boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts and used the proceeds to purchase items for the drive.
With the assistance of their facilitators, Ashley Woodard and Ariel Wright, and the instructions from the event flyer, they were able to donate a variety of toys: puzzles, games, coloring books, card games, stuffed animals, nail polish, light up toys and more.
“The teens were careful with what they selected and ensured that they didn’t get things that were too expensive, but things that other children and teens would like,” facilitator Ashley Woodard said. “They knew that we were on a budget.”
The youth saw the project from beginning to end and had a blast giving back to the community!