2019 graph showing fundraising amounts

Orange County Holds its Annual Great Oaks Village Holiday Kickoff Program to Raise Funds for Foster Children and Young Adults

Community & Services

Great Oaks Village, which has stood as a beacon of hope for close to 100 years, is an Orange County residential foster group home. It serves as a safety net for children ages 6 to 18+ who have been removed from their homes by the State of Florida due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Recently, the County held its annual Great Oaks Village Holiday Kickoff Program to help raise much-needed funds for the historic home.

Tracey Salem, Ph.D., Orange County Youth and Family Services Manager, and her dedicated staff have provided these kids with unconditional love and support, as well as an environment in which they can thrive and grow. Fundraising efforts help Great Oaks Village with buying everything from Christmas and birthday presents for the children to other expenses the state does not cover, such as field trips, prom tickets, etc.

“The generosity of Orange County employees and our community partners always ensures the program’s success,” she said. “The added support we get from this program can’t be overstated, as it helps brighten not only the holidays, but helps spread joy throughout the year.”

The young people who come to Great Oaks Village all share one thing in common – circumstances beyond their control that have forced them to seek a place of safety and protection outside of their family home. While the staff at Great Oaks Village cannot change what brought these young people there, their goal is to help them find their way and establish new roots.

“As a former Orlando Police Chief and Orange County Sheriff, I’ve witnessed firsthand the need for a safe place for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “I can’t imagine what would happen to these kids if it wasn’t for the important work being done at Great Oaks Village, which is literally saving and changing the lives of the nearly 250 children who walk through its doors each year.”

Last year, during the 2019-2020 campaign, Orange County employees donated $39,635 (including in-kind contributions from community partners). Broken down by department, Public Works raised $17,200, Utilities $10,911, Corrections $3,990, Administrative Services $1,524, P.E.D.S. $1,311 and Fire Rescue $1,010. Add to this the additional $44,577 the community donated, and a total of $84,213 was raised.

“These are impressive numbers, but I want to encourage each department to raise even more during the 2020-2021 campaign,” said Byron Brooks, Orange County Administrator. “We’ve been given another incredible opportunity to assist Great Oaks Village in helping these young people overcome their challenges and achieve happiness and success in their lives.”

For more information on the Great Oaks Village Holiday Kickoff Program and how you can donate, contact Tracy Salem at tracy.salem@ocfl.net or call 407-836-7682.

Photo Caption: Orange County Government employees raised more than $37,000 in monetary donations for the 2019 Great Oaks Village holiday campaign.

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