Unwrapping Smiles: United Way's Holiday Project Sparks Festive Magic!

STUART, FL – In its 35th consecutive year of making Christmas dreams come true, United Way of Martin County once again orchestrated a heartwarming Holiday Project, ensuring that thousands of local children woke up to the joy of presents underneath the tree.

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of local businesses, community organizations, individual donors, sponsors, devoted volunteers and Santa, of course, the United Way Holiday Project was a resounding success. The result? A magical Christmas morning for countless families in need. 

Each fall, United Way collaborates with over 45 nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations, and schools to identify families in need. Rigorous checks are conducted to avoid duplication of services before referrals are approved. Serving as the local coordinating organization for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, United Way collects toys with the help of over 100 businesses and communities serving as official Toys for Tots drop-off locations.

True to tradition, United Way's volunteer elves worked tirelessly to transform the Martin County Fairgrounds into Santa's Workshop, where hundreds of volunteers spent weeks sorting and categorizing toys. Families, screened and referred by nonprofit organizations and schools, had the opportunity to "shop" for toys tailored to their child's specific interests, ensuring a personalized and dignified experience. Participating families were not only treated to a festive array of toys but were also provided with the makings of a traditional holiday meal. 

On December 13 and 14, the spirit of giving reached its peak as volunteers distributed nearly 15,000 toys and 20,000 pounds of food to more than 2,400 children and 950 families in need. This two-day distribution event was a testament to the community's commitment to making the holidays brighter for those facing financial hardships.

"We are so grateful for the support we received this year." said United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol G. Houwaart-Diez. "Thanks to the kindness of our community, we were able to make a difference in the lives of so many children and their families. We couldn't have done it without them."

But that’s not all.

In a decade-long commitment to helping Martin County families, Zweben Law Group proudly coordinated the Zweben Law Group Bike Drive to make the holidays extra special by covering the cost of over 350 bikes so that children could experience the bliss of waking up on Christmas morning to find a shiny new bike.

Martin County Fire Rescue rallied to support the effort by assembling more than 300 bikes during their time off. 

The Martin County Board of County Commissioners, Martin County Transit (Marty), MTM Transit and Walmart partnered with United Way of Martin County to hold the second annual “Stuff the Bus” toy drive, where residents had two opportunities to fill a Marty bus with new, unwrapped toys.

Altogether, there were more than 350 volunteers, including over 70 AmeriCorps Seniors, who donated nearly 2,000 hours during the project to make Christmas special for local children. 

Thank you to Ashley Capital, Rubin & Rubin and STS Aviation for sponsoring the project. 

“United Way dedicates an incredible amount of time and energy for this project, but it truly could not happen without the entire community uniting around the effort,” Houwaart-Diez said. “It’s a shining example that we all win when we Live United.”

About United Way of Martin County
United Way of Martin County’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. United Way continues to create long-term social change and provide support to Martin County residents by investing in programs that strive to: enhance healthy living, improve education, and support financial stability. For more information about United Way of Martin County, please visit: unitedwaymartin.org.