Hundred of families in need have brighter holiday with help from the United Way of St. Johns County

Coronavirus: Help in time for the holidays

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. —

Despite the pandemic, hundreds of local families in need are having a brighter holiday this year with help from the United Way of St. Johns County.

Action News Jax reporter Alicia Tarancon spoke with a St. Augustine mother of three who told her that without help from the nonprofit, she wouldn’t be able to give her family a Christmas this year.

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Celeste Wood delivered groceries to families in Ponte Vedra.

She’s what’s known as a full service shopper, working for Shipt and Instacart.

“I went from averaging around four or six orders a day to about 15, she said.

When the pandemic hit, her husband’s landscaping business took a hit and her family lost a big part of their income.

That’s when she started picking up more work.

“I go to food drives. I pick up extra orders, I do what I can,” Wood said.

She and her husband have three children, including a son with special needs.

When things got tough, she turned to the United Way of St. Johns County’s Empty Stocking fund to help pay for basic necessities.

The United Way of St. Johns County told Action News Jax it’s already helped about 600 families this year.

That’s up by nearly 100 compared to last year.

The nonprofit has even partnered with more organizations to help reach more people.

With the pandemic, it’s seen even more families applying for assistance this year.

Last year the empty stocking fund distributed more than $100,000 to families in need to brighten their holiday.

Wood said she doesn’t know where she would be without help from the program.

“I have food for Christmas dinner and the rest of the month. I was able to get Christmas presents for my children and it took a lot of stress and that is priceless, relieving stress is absolutely priceless,” Wood said.

The Empty Stocking Fund is still in need of donations so it can help more families next year. For more information on how you can help you can click here.

United Way of St. Johns County provide critical financial help