2016 was a good year for the city of Jacksonville. The community came together in poignant and significant ways, which generated so much positivity amongst the people that call Jacksonville home. Thanks to news outlets, we were able to learn about these incredible happenings throughout the city. Here are ten stories from last year that made us love Jacksonville even more.
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10. Police Officer Sneaks Gift Cards Into Traffic-Warning Envelopes
Officer William Torres brightened people’s day this Christmas, sneaking $15 gift cards to various restaurants in the area, into written warning envelopes during traffic stops in Neptune Beach. See the story here.
9. Community Groups Collaborate On Hurricane-Relief Fund
This past October, the First Coast Relief Fund was established in Jacksonville to help raise money for housing, medical costs, and other expenses due to the tragedies left behind in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. See the story here.
8. Transplant Recipient Uses New Heart To Spread Love To Others
In 2015, mother of five Laquisha Mathis received a heart transplant that saved her life, after being told she only had six months to live. In November, Mathis took this new lease on life and became a licensed foster parent in order to help others. See the story here.
7. Deputies Throw Surprise Pizza Party For 7-Year-Old Girl
After several police officers lost their lives in July, seven-year-old Kennedy Rose Booker brought chocolate to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to thank the department for their service. They were so touched by her act of kindness they hosted a pizza party for her a couple of months later. See the story here.
6. Jacksonville Family Gets Shopping Spree For Christmas Feast
Thanks to the people at Winn-Dixie and News4Jax, the Sloan Family in Jacksonville were provided with all of the fixings to prepare a holiday feast. Steven and Shameka Sloan were high school sweethearts, he was born deaf and she now works as a sign-language interpreter. They have two children and foster a set of two-year-old twins. See the story here.
5. Lee High School Students Meet President Obama at UNF
The students involved with the EVAC movement at Lee High School strive to bring change to Jacksonville’s community. In November they were given the opportunity to meet with the president, which inspired them even further in their hope to bring the community closer together. See the story here.
4. 7-Year-Old Raises $2,500 To Help Kids With Cancer
Seven-year-old T.J Dahlem from Jacksonville organized a Virtual Fun Run at his school that raised $2,500 for the Tom Coughlin’s Jay Fund Foundation, an organization that offers financial and emotional support to families in Jacksonville that are tackling childhood cancer. See the story here.
3. Soldier Surprises Son At River City Science Academy
Army Staff Sgt. Marina Harrison surprised her son, who is a fifth-grader at the River City Science Academy, by coming back from deployment and showing up during lunch time at the school. He was not expecting to see his mother for another month, and was thrilled to have her back earlier than expected. See the story here.
2. Nonprofit Builds House For Homeless Military Family
After being hurt in an accident earlier in the year, recon Marine Christopher Natto, along with his wife Sydney and their son Rhett, were left without a place to live due to high medical bills. Lennar Homes and Builders Care came together to build the family a home, and now they have a place they can call their own again. See the story here.
1. Special Gift Given To Young Man Paralyzed By Rare Condition
Tory Griffin was tragically paralyzed from a rare condition almost two years ago. This November, he was given the gift of a room makeover, thanks to the organization Designs From The Heart. The surprise came just in time for Griffin’s twentieth birthday celebrations. See the story here.