‘The Joy of Giving’ began Saturday morning at Sligh Middle Magnet School’s Thaddeus M. Bullard Academy.
Titus O’Neil, the academy’s namesake and WWE Global Ambassador, was on hand with the Bullard Family Foundation to distribute gifts to almost 5,000 families.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for children of all ages.
“I couldn’t help but cry,” Laqueda Marcelle remarked. “I was just ecstatic and overwhelmed.”
“I didn’t expect anything like this,” she admitted.
Marcelle was one of three families that received brand-new cars, therefore it was an emotional time.
Shelby Hart and Isabelle each received a Toyota Corolla.
“It’ll make things easier,” Hart predicted. “No more busses no more walking.”
“We lost our car a few months ago and it’s nice to start over fresh,” she said.
“After all we went through,” her daughter concluded, “we finally got a car.”
According to 8 On Your Side, this gift changes everything.
“We don’t have to walk anymore and we don’t have to struggle,” she remarked.
‘Joy of Giving’ is an event that began in 2009 as a method to convey joy to the children who needed it the most.
“Being one of those people who received a remote control car at 12 years old from a woman who said I bought this gift specifically for you and it was the only gift I got that year,” Bullard recalled. “I never forgot how I felt that day with the dignity that woman presented to me with the only gift I got for Christmas.”
“For some of these families, times are hard this may be the only joy they get to receive,” he said.
Though receiving a Christmas present made thousands of children happy, it went beyond that.
The true purpose was to change people’s lives.
“It’s an experience,” said Janelle McGregor, Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships for the City of Tampa. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the good that’s being done in their own backyard.”
“To be able to walk away with that gift you’re going remember, but that experience of meeting Santa, hearing the bands, seeing all the excitement that’s a memory of a lifetime,” he said.
You can make a donation to the Bullard Family Foundation by clicking here.