The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
‘What are you doing for others?” – Dr. Martin Luther king Jr.

By Valerie Block

The quote by Dr. King is what Dr. Bessie Cristwell lives by and uses to inspire others to give back this holiday season. Dr. Cristwell has been a resident of the Coral Springs community for the past 46 years. She has played multiple key roles in our community such as MLK Scholarship Chair, educator, administrator, member of the Coral Springs Police Community Ambassador Program, and a member of the City’s Multicultural Committee. Every year Dr. Cristwell works with the Coral Springs community to collect items for Broward Partnership, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Homeless Assistance Center.

Year by year more become inspired to take action and spread the spirit of the holiday season. This year, various organizations, schools, sports teams, clubs, neighbors, and selfless individuals took a step in making the holidays for those in need, a lot more special.

The collection began mid-November, where students were provided service hours for making posters, donating and promoting towards this cause. Contributing schools were: Coral Springs Charter, Coral Glades High School, JP Taravella High School, and Stoneman Douglas High School. Student leaders who took initiative in coordinating the collection of items with Dr. Cristwell were Nicholas Pappalardo and Thomas Vliestra (Coral Springs Charter DECA), Brooke Jolliff (Coral Glades National Honor Society), Fabio Rojas and Leila Alphonse (JP Taravella Key Club), and Marjory Stoneman Douglas National Honor Society/ Basketball Team.

With this drive, hundreds of toys for various ages were contributed by additional organizations such as the North Broward County Chapter of the Links Incorporated, Abundant Life Church, and the Coral Springs Police Community Ambassador Program (CAP) . There were some notable individuals such as Gerald Block, who was inspired by his granddaughter, Valerie Block, who worked with Dr.Cristwell last year; as well as Alean Ford and Linda Harley.

The week of December 11th was dedicated to making countless trips to the Broward Partnership location in Pompano Beach. Coral Springs Charter School held a “Not So Silent Night” event in which students and families gathered to make cards and drop off toys on December 16th. Coral Springs Charter School has been a notable part in this drive year after year. This year, the DECA club promoted this drive as an “Act of Kindness” and collected over 300 items of non perishable goods, clothing, toys and much more. Students learned the importance of being kind and more importantly the joy in helping this community!

Ms. Isabella Preble from Broward Partnership is the Community Relations Specialist, she graciously thanks the students and staff from Coral Springs Charter School who worked together to donate hundreds of gifts to the Giving Tree. She stated “ We were extremely excited to once again collaborate with this amazing team. It truly warmed our hearts to see the outreach grow to include many new community partners. Each gift received will help men, women and families with children experiencing homelessness transition out of homelessness and into safe and stable housing.”

The Coral Springs Charter School has shown great generosity and kindness by donating hundreds of gifts to the Giving Tree. Their dedication to supporting the community is admirable and inspiring. In addition to physical gifts, a personalized name necklace with the name of each recipient can also be a special way to show that they are valued and loved. It’s heartening to see how small acts of kindness can make a huge difference in the lives of those who are struggling, and the Coral Springs Charter School students and staff have truly set a shining example of how we can all work together to create positive change.

This drive could not have been possible without the Coral Springs Community coming together to give to those in need and shine a light on children, young adults and families who are experiencing homelessness. Together we can achieve anything! If you would like to donate to Broward Partnership, please visit for more information.

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