The Good Neighbor Awards recognize REALTORSŪ who've made an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work. Five winners will receive $10,000 grants for their cause. The 2009 deadline will be May 22.
2008 Good Neighbor Finalists Announced
Good Neighbor Finalist Gives Toys to Kids in Need
Robert Thomson, Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, Jupiter, Fla.
Today we feature Robert Thomson of Waterfront Properties and Club Communities in Jupiter, Fla., who founded a nonprofit organization to make life happier for disadvantaged children.
After years of supporting children’s causes, Thomson decided to create his own nonprofit organization to help make children’s lives happier. In 2004 he founded Charities for Children, which provides holiday gifts and other support to poor children in Florida’s Palm Beach and Martin counties.
Last year alone, Thomson donated 28,000 toys, primarily through holiday drives at local churches, schools, and social service agencies.
The organization also serves as a safety net for local children’s causes in need of funding. This year, Charities for Children made more than $300,000 in donations to such causes as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Head Start, the American Cancer Society, and many local schools.
“I have a weakness for children and schools,” says Thomson, who struggled as a child with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
For about five years, Thomson has been on a holiday gift-giving mission, making the rounds in December to area schools and churches to deliver toys, hundreds of at a time, according to need. He also makes an annual delivery of 1,000 Easter baskets to places like The Children’s Place at Home Safe, a home for abused and neglected children in West Palm Beach.
Thomson says he enjoys giving to toy drives “because life’s been just great to me in recent years—though as a kid, we didn't have a lot so I’ve been there.”
A few years ago, Thomson donated 120 bicycles to a toy drive for the New Macedonia Baptist Church in Riviera Beach, Fla. However, when 275 children showed up to claim their gifts, Thomson didn’t want any child to be turned away. He quickly purchased 155 more bikes—but since on such short notice he could only find them not yet assembled, he also recruited volunteers to assemble the bikes in two days and rented two trucks to deliver them to the children.
Thomson says he hopes his efforts improve the lives of others and inspire people to get in the spirit of giving. “When I die, I don’t want them to put on my tombstone, 'Here lies a guy who sold a lot of big houses and kept the money all to himself.'”