Palm Beach Daily News
December 28, 2020
What started as a Thanksgiving discussion between two old friends has blossomed into an example of lessons well learned.
Parker Ward and Colin Nicoletti have known each other since their diaper days. Ward went on to Rosarian Academy and Nicoletti went to Palm Beach Day Academy, but they remain close friends. As part of the curriculum at both schools, there is an emphasis on the theoretical and practical aspects of philanthropy.
Nicoletti said as early as third grade he was motivated to help Food for the Poor, a Pompano Beach-based charity that provides food, medicine and shelter for the impoverished in the Caribbean and Latin America. Food for the Poor has a relationship with Palm Beach Day third-grade students who have donated shoes, supplies and cash to the program.
For both families, the practice of philanthropy is alive and thriving at home as well.
So when the two old friends connected over the Thanksgiving break, they agreed they needed to do something to help those struggling with the effects of poverty, homelessness and COVID. But to take action, the friends knew they had to venture into unfamiliar territory.
At Rosarian, Ward said, “I was just a part of it. I wasn’t calling the shots.” Ward and Nicoletti were accustomed to being participants in philanthropic endeavors, but this represented a bold new step for them: They had to become leaders.
Ward, 16, is now a student at Oxbridge Academy, and Nicoletti, 15, is a student at Woodberry Forest School in northern Virginia. Both are well-prepared to lead. Both are honor students and athletes at their schools. Nicoletti is a swimmer specializing at sprint events and Ward plays volleyball, softball and lacrosse at Oxbridge and club volleyball after school.
“We were talking about how we could give back to the community,” Nicoletti said.
“We realized it’s a hard time for people, especially with COVID,” Ward said.
So they took the initiative and enlisted help from siblings and friends and set about doing something about it.
Joining them were Ward’s siblings Win, 14; Mercer, 12; and Tilly, 5, and friends Brady, 12, and Coley, 11, Surovek, all Rosarian students. The friends started a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise $10,000, then upped their expectations once they reached the goal. Their second goal was $15,000 and they surpassed it as well.
They decided on organizations that would distribute the toys, sporting goods, electronics and gifts cards. Most of the organizations were ones their families had relationships or leadership roles with, or ones they had been introduced to through their schools.
Then they went shopping. The gifts included toys for the children, of course. There were also gifts such as sporting goods and electronics appropriate for teenagers.
“A lot of those kids are forgotten at that age,” Ward said.
Then the gifts were distributed to their organizations. Though the bulk of their activities were completed before the holidays, they were not totally done. They needed to find a grill for a fire station and duffle bags for children at Safe Harbor, and the brigade of Santas filled those orders, too
“It’s amazing to see these agencies and what they can do,” Nicoletti said. “It felt really good supporting them.”
“We’re excited to see all the pictures,” Ward said.
The site can be reached at www.gofundme.com/f/dont-let-covid-steal-christmas?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-