Naples Winter Wine Festival donors get to meet the kids they’re helping

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Naples Winter Wine Festival donors are getting the chance to meet the children their money directly impacts. The event benefits charities within the Naples Children and Education Foundation. And 100% of those donations stay within Collier County.

There are adorable children under the big white tent amongst the sea of adults. Each of them benefits from the charity that the Naples Winter Wine Festival supports.

Meet Josh Wolfson is one of the children that says the charity has helped him. But he’s also an athlete. ” I play tennis, paddleboarding, and basketball,” said Wolfson. With a tennis racket in hand and a gold medal around his neck, John speaks enthusiastically about all that Special Olympics has done for him.

“I don’t really know what I would be using a lot of my time for. I just really do enjoy and really do like Special Olympics, and I’m really happy to be here today,” he said.

“The other kids there are really nice. And I made a lot of nice friends doing Special Olympics,” said Josh.

This is what “Meet The Kids” Day is all about. All of the festival’s donors and patrons get the opportunity to meet people like Josh, Makenzie, and Landon. These donors see how these tiny faces benefit directly from the money the Naples Winter Wine Festival and Auction brings in.

Landon likes Batman…a lot. “He has grappling hooks and he can fly!” he said. But he’s not the real hero in Landon’s life. Sydney Esquibel works with Better Together. ” His mom is his hero,” Esquibel said.

Landon and his mother are part of Better Together, a nonprofit that works to keep children and parents together and children out of foster care. This is another charity that the Naples Winter Wine Festival supports.

During “Meet the Kids” Day, Landon has been going around saying hi to every. “Landon’s been so excited. He’s been, you know, saying hi to everyone handing out our flyers. And I think to be able to actually see the children in all of these organizations that they’re able to help it just really makes a difference,” said Esquibel.

Laina Kennedy is one of the Naples Winter Wine Festival’s many patrons. “One of the first people I met walking in was a child. And he was telling me about how his dream is to be a doctor and how everything this organization is doing to support that. And it was just so heartwarming to hear,” said Kennedy.

Mackenzie Srancois told everyone about Valerie’s House and how it has helped her. Valerie’s House provides grief support for children and adolescents. “My mom died two years ago,” Mackenzie said. “I’m able to express how I felt. Because I feel like I can’t really talk to my friends about it because you know like they haven’t like gone through something I have.”

“And so it’s nice to kind of see that you’re the only one that those kids who understand and kids relate to you,” said Mackenzie.

Paul Hill is the chairman of the board of directors for the festival. “They can physically see the children and the impact that they’re having on the children. That’s the endgame. I believe that in my heart,” Hill said. 

And, in the hearts of these children, they can feel and see so many people cheering them on.

The charities help pay for meals, dental care, mental health care and education for these children.

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