Businesses Bring Joy To Holidays

By Summer Jarro | Daily Sun Staff Writer | December 15, 2021 

Steve Munz is amazed every time he sees the reactions of the people he supports during the holidays. From bicycle collections to passing out meals, Munz, owner of Galaxy Home Solutions in Wildwood, has given back to the community at Christmastime for the past 15 years. Other businesses such as Parady Financial Group, Citizens First Bank, Redsauce, Havana Country Club and Fresh Made Kitchen Restaurant Group also are showing their charitable side through toy or food drives, raising money for organizations and more. Munz, with the help of his staff, puts together a Christmas community celebration every year at Galaxy Home Solutions, where they pass out 200 meals to Sumter County residents.

Each meal can feed up to six people.

Staff also give out bicycles donated by the Village Bicycle Club and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.

This year’s celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. 

“It’s just a way to give back, and it’s a true blessing that we’re able to do it,” Munz said. “The expression on people’s faces who would not have received this otherwise is just really amazing.”

On Christmas morning, Munz fills his truck with bicycles and he and his family drive around Sumter County looking for children playing in the street so they can offer them a bike for Christmas.

Clients of Parady Financial Group have the opportunity this holiday season to donate to the business’ collec-tion drive for Kids Central Inc., a child welfare agency in Wildwood. Anyone can drop off toiletries and toys through Friday  at the office at 340 Heald Way, Suite 226.

It is Parady’s first time donating to the organization.

Greg Parady, the financial group’s CEO, wants to give back to the community that has supported his business, said Linda Bennett, Parady’s director of events.

A client recommended Kids Central Inc., Bennett said.

“It’s really important that we support stuff like that, and not only do they support the families, they protect the children,” she said.

Citizens First Bank once again chose to support the Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties.

Through fundraising events such as candy and book sales, a pumpkin decorating contest and chance drawings at the annual Ladies Haven event, Citizens First Bank raised $14,000 for the organi-zation that helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Thirteen of the Citizens First Bank locations also participated in a drive for Toys for Tots, with both employees and customers donating unwrapped toys.

“Our communities are very important to us, and our team takes pride in giving back to the communities that we serve,”  said Michelle Crawford, vice president of marketing and administration at Citizens First Bank. “We strive to be great stewards, and it’s heartwarming to know that you’ve helped those in your community in some way.”

FMK Restaurant Group’s sixth annual Dennis’ Stock the Stockings Toy Drive, started by FMK employee Dennis Spillane, is happening through Monday.

Local residents can drop off gifts such as bicycles, games, sports equipment and gift cards for infants all the way up to teens at Bonifay Country Club, Evans Prairie Country Club, Orange Blossom Hills Golf and Country Club and Belle Glade Country Club.

The drive provides FMK hospitality employees with gifts for their children. Staff will get their gifts Tuesday, and any leftover items will go to the Christian Care Center’s Samaritan Inn in Leesburg.

“It’s grown every year,” said Philip Benjamin, director of marketing for FMK, whose president and CEO is Fred Karimipour. “It’s amazing to see how many gifts the Villagers bring in and are excited to help these families  that need it. With so much success, how can you not do it?”

Restaurant owners and brothers David and Jack Suleiman put together drives and charitable events throughout the year and continue through the Christmas season.

David, who owns Legacy Restaurant at the Nancy Lopez Country Club, Legacy Bar & Grill, Prima Italian Steakhouse and Havana Country Club, is hosting a toy drive at his restaurants.

Anyone can drop off a toy of their choice at any of the locations and it will go to Kids Central Inc. or restaurant employees. David will match $2,500 worth of toys at the end of the drive.

Customers who donate will get a $10 voucher to use at any of the restaurants.

Jack, who owns Redsauce in Lake Sumter Landing and Glenview Champions Country Club, has a round-up-your-bill initiative at his restaurants through Dec. 24. Customers can round up their bill to the next dollar amount, and that money will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He has held this event for the past five years.

Each Christmas, Jack also gives to SoZo Kids, a nonprofit helping children who live in poverty in the Ocala National Forest. He hosts a Christmas party where the children can enjoy dinner, meet Santa and receive gifts. The dinner happened earlier this month.

He enjoys helping the organization and has seen the children grow up in the process.

“I’ve formed a special bond and friendship, so it works out really nice going out there and visiting them,” Jack said.