HandsOn Jacksonville has sponsored A Visit from St. Nicholas in area elementary schools since 2002. The night before volunteers decorate the schools with gold tinsel and place backpacks filled with books, magnetic alphabet letters and toys on each desk. St. Nicholas visits each classroom, talking with the children and gives each a "kindness coin." Volunteers read St. Nicholas story to the children.
It is fun, but the primary focus is to encourage literacy. 500 volunteers from 50 companies and charities sort and box 28,000 books and 28,000 toys that are distibuted to around 6,000 students in 12 area schools. 70% of the students in each school qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. For some, this is the first and only Christmas gift.