|Posted by Anne Siren on November 30, 2012 at 1:40 PM|
Pompano Beach – About 5,000 people are expected to turn out for the 16th annual “Holiday in the Park” celebration Saturday, Dec. 15, at Mitchell Moore Park, 901 NW 10 St.
The event, from noon to 4 p.m., is aimed at bringing the community closer together, according to Henry (Skip) Greene, vice president of Pass the Blessings Foundation.
Greene and his wife Lois started the non-profit foundation, which she heads as president.
“We’ve been blessed in our lives. The only way to say thank you is to pass the blessings,” Skip said, explaining the group’s origins.
They invite all area residents to come out and “enjoy the day.” Admission is free for the family event, featuring entertainment, food and toy giveaways. Toys will be given to children from infants to seven-year-olds. The Greenes travel the community year-round to gather the toys.
Santa will arrive on a Pompano Beach city fire truck, escorted by Miami Dolphins’ cheerleaders. The Ballet Brika West African Dance Theater will be among the entertainers.
For about 10 years the Greenes have provided the toys and beverages for the annual holiday event. Now they are looking for others to help, Skip said. For the past three years they have handed out 2,000 toys per event.
“That’s a blessing, and any toys that are left we take to children in hospitals and to shut-ins, who couldn’t make it to the celebration,” he said.
He recalled one visit a few years ago when, dressed as Santa, he went to a Pompano Beach hospital. “One little boy, about 7, wanted to hold Santa’s finger and wouldn’t let go. He told me what he wanted for his mother, father, sister and two brothers. I told him everything he asked for would be there, and he said, ‘Thank you, Santa.’
“I didn’t realize how sick he was. I learned later that he never woke up the next morning. Those things draw on your heart, and those are the reasons we’re out there. Even when you’re tired, this keeps you going back next year,” he said.
Skip is the second of nine children and grew up in Harlem. “My marks weren’t that good. I had no aspirations for college. I thought high school would be the key to life for me,” he recalled. “My parents and friends kept me on the straight and narrow.”
He joined the U.S. Navy, and then IBM hired him and enrolled him in a junior engineering program. The company paid for his college studies. He eventually became hardware configuration manager and worked on controlled design of computers on the space shuttle.
The Greenes moved to Coral Springs 17 years ago from Manassas, VA. She had worked as an engineer for the Pentagon, and he worked for IBM for 30 years. She’s now employed as a cashier in the Food and Nutrition Department at Monarch High School.
They have adult twin daughters, Tanya and Tamara, who live near them, and a son Joseph, 5.
They wanted to get involved in the community and eventually decided to start an organization themselves to help needy children. They started with an event for 50 children at a Fort Lauderdale park, and that has now grown to 2,000.
They have sponsored holiday events throughout Broward County at different locations every two to three years. This is the second time in Pompano Beach. Last year 3,500 people turned out in Pompano, where nearly 2,000 toys were distributed.
Refreshments will be available at the event. Beverages are free, but there will be a charge for food. Donated items will be raffled with proceeds going to Pass the Blessings Foundation to stage even more events.
Skip has been Santa in past years, but now he says, “It’s time to pass the beard” so he can be more involved in management of events.
For more information, call 954-755-7656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.