Holiday hero: Nonprofit makes the season bright for local families in need

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. — Although the pandemic threw many families into crisis, a local group called the Human Collective helped make the season bright for many struggling families this year.

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One of those families reached by the Human Collective was Addis’ family. Addis, who asked to go only by her first name, worked as a housekeeper, but in 2020, the mother of three was hit by the perfect storm of the worst kind. The pandemic hit, her hours were cut, her rent was raised and she began dealing with health issues.

The sting of hardships peaked as Christmas approached.

“Pay my bills or get [Christmas] stuff like that,” she told Action News Jax.

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Across town, Noelle Marx, who has years of working with non-profits, was thinking of a way to help out her community.

“I realized I had such a great platform of just individuals that surrounded me that wanted to serve to,” she said.

The question was: How and who? As Christmas approached, she picked up the phone, calling her church and her children’s school.

“I said, ‘Do you have anybody who has kind of fallen through the cracks that needs a little help?’” Marx explained.

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That’s how she came to know Clay County school social worker Jenni Bell. Bell began linking Noelle with families in need.

“It’s more of a feel-good sometimes to shop out for a five or six-year-old, but they have teen siblings at home,” Bell said.

Noelle sprang her friends and family and members of the community into action, collecting all the things needed to put together Christmases for as many people as she could, serving entire families – children, teens and parents alike.

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That year, Noelle and her new non-profit The Human Collective served 100 family members on the First Coast – Addis’ family was one of them.

“She filled my living room full for everybody,” Addis told Action News Jax.

The following year, Noelle didn’t slow down. She and her new non-profit The Human Collective tripled their impact, serving 300 family members throughout Northeast Florida, and she’s not slowing down.

“So, this is obviously only a portion,” Marx said.

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Marx in the process of collecting more items and hopes to deliver another Christmas for 300 people this year.

“I always get the, why do you do this, and I say this could be any of us. I have been a single mom for a longtime and I would hope that if I was down on my luck, somebody would try to help me,” Marx explained.

For those have been impacted by Noelle’s work, Addis sums up the only way to describe the feeling: “It’s kind of like family ... It is family. It is.”

You can support the Human Collective’s holiday drive by dropping items at gift drop boxes or visiting www.thehumancollectivefoundation.org.