LEESBURG – Kids in the Carver Heights neighborhood of Leesburg had an early Christmas surprise on Sunday.
Small businesses organized the first “It Takes A Village” toy giveaway.
Each child who participated received a freebie, which included Bluetooth speakers, light rings, paw patrol items, Nerf blasters, and more. Orlando chef Todo Pollo Pai also prepared lunch for around 260 guests.
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Deonte Harris, co-owner of AllBrilliantMinds E&E, was looking for a way to give back to his community this Christmas, but was not involved with any of the major organizations running campaigns this time of year. So he decided to take his friends and family and start his own, believing there was no reason small businesses couldn’t come together to create something special for local kids.
“You see big organizations and churches doing things like that and I just felt like there were some areas that needed a little more,” Harris said. “There’s something special about everyday business owners doing something on their own just to help give back. ”
AllBrilliantMinds co-owners Jon Christian, Roy Figueroa, Joshua Garcia, and Keno Rice have started collecting toys and fundraising to organize the Toy Gift to Berry Park, which holds a special place in Harris’ heart.
“Agnes Berry, for whom the park was named, is to me one of the legends of Leesburg,” said Harris. “She is a great source of inspiration and we want to continue to do so every year on her behalf. She even stopped for a bit and told us how grateful she was that we were doing this for the community.
Other commercial sponsors included Bricks Studio, 1020 Ent, Kemisty Beauty Bar, Harris C&R Cleanings, Rumble In Orlando, DJ Shakeback and Jasper Services Home Improvement. Some people also donated toys, including members of the Christian Worship Center, run by the pastor and mayor of Leesburg, John Christian, who came to support the event.
“The best part was the smiles on the children’s faces,” Harris said. “The parents were so grateful and the kids were so happy. Not only for the gift they received but also for the fact that they were able to see their community come together and help each other and I hope they will learn by seeing this. When we started our business, our concept was to make sure we were foreknowledge and served our community. “
Harris has already started to think about their second annual giveaway next Christmas. Their goal is to raise $ 10,000 and give each child a bicycle.
“We really appreciate this opportunity to give back and for everyone who helped make it happen,” said Harris. “We try to become a fixture in the community and be there for as long as we can.”