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Boys Town Central Florida Celebrates Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Open House

Boys Town ​Central Florida invited the community to visit the residential campus for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting and open house Sunday, Dec. 7. More than 200 people attended including community members, partners, supporting agencies, board members, donors and families of the staff and youth. The special evening included Christmas carols, a visit from Santa, and recognition of two Boys Town Central Florida youth who spoke about what they were thankful for and how Boys Town has helped them. The homes were decorated for a Christmas décor contest and tours, and the youth proudly dressed up in different colors to represent their homes.

Tammy Benjamin, a teacher in the Intervention & Assessment center, and the shelter staff, went above and beyond in decorating the shelter with a beautiful tree and large candy decorations hanging across the ceiling.

“Christmas is a special time,” said Terry Knox, Development Director, Boys Town Central Florida. “We wanted to take the opportunity to invite the community to meet the youth and families we serve and see firsthand the services we offer.”

The evening had beautiful clear weather as Santa pulled up on a fire truck to light up the dark sky with color as the tree lighting began. “I’ve been at Boys Town Central Florida for over 19 years and this was by far the best tree lighting ceremony,” said Troy Dunberger, Sr. Director of Program Operations.

A special thank you to the Oviedo and Winter Springs Police and Oviedo Fire Departments, Hagerty High School ROTC, the Rhythm & Blues band, Kelly Canova Photography, and of course, Santa Claus!

Individual recognition was given to community partners, who each received a small plaque:

• Buster & Tisa Wible and their therapy dog Maizie who frequently visit the youth at the shelter.

• Diane Keyes of the Literacy Alliance — who puts on puppet shows for children at local book stores and teaches the shelter youth about working together while performing in these shows for the community.

“Everyone that attended the Christmas Tree Lighting shared a special evening to kick-off the holidays for our youth and with every year, the crowd gets bigger! This wonderful opportunity sharing, celebrating and showing what we have to offer at Boys Town Central Florida is the most heartwarming experience,” said Greg Zbylut, Executive Director.