December 13, 2013

Fittingly enough, DPR Orlando’s decision to host the annual New Hope for Kids holiday party dates back to a summer visit to the small town of Christmas, FL. It was during a DPR volunteer trip to the organization’s summer camp, held there back in June, that DPR’s Joslin Matteson approached New Hope for Kids’ Event Manager Rhonda Stankiewicz about more ways to get involved with the group.

In addition to sponsoring the group’s Pumpkin Bowl in late October, DPR signed on to sponsor and host its annual holiday party, held Dec. 8 at the First Presbyterian Church in Maitland, FL. Planning for the party began in August, Matteson said, adding that she and other DPR volunteers were tasked with planning the menu, providing decorations, setting up the party and volunteering the day of the event.

According to Matteson, DPR’s Josh Schadow, a project engineer in the Orlando office, volunteered to build the decorations in his own time. Keeping with the party theme of “Snowmen,” Schadow built and painted two plywood trees and a plywood snowman. The large props have hinged backs and can be stored flat for future holiday parties. Additionally, a combined total of 10 volunteers – half of the Orlando office’s staff – were on site the day before and early the day of the party to set up and prep the food.

During the party, which hosted 275 to 300 guests, Matteson said DPR volunteers helped with craft stations and face painting for the kids and manned the “gift shop,” where children could pick up small gifts, like towels and pot holders, to wrap and put under their own Christmas trees for their families. Santa was also on hand to give the children their own treat, either an ornament or small stuffed animal.

In total, the DPR Foundation contributed $2,600 in discretionary funds to the party, paying for the gifts from Santa, gift shop items, gym and kitchen rental, raffle items, t-shirts, and food. These discretionary funds are distributed to DPR’s offices to enhance volunteerism with their designated Foundation organizations.

The party was bookended by two holiday drives for New Hope for Kids, organized and paid for directly by the Orlando office. In November, DPR employees contributed to the organization’s “Give A Gift Card” Drive, which assisted families in the organization’s grief and wish programs that were struggling financially due to the death of the main wage earner or because of the medical bills associated with the illness of their child. In total, six employees donated $120 in gift cards to the campaign to help these families enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day meal. Additionally, the Orlando office raised approximately $300 in gift cards and $200 in toys for the New Hope for Kids holiday toy drive, which was set to provide gifts to more than 650 children from the program.

Based in Maitland, New Hope for Kids assists Central Florida children in need through its two programs, the Center for Grieving Children, which helps children and families cope with the feelings of grief and loss after the death of a loved one, and Children’s Wish, which grants wishes to children, ages three to 18, diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

New Hope for Kids is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Since December 2010, the DPR Foundation has supported New Hope for Kids with grants totaling $115,000. Additionally, DPR Orlando volunteers participate in an annual back-to-school drive benefiting the organization, among other activities.