BRADENTON -- Wearing a red Santa hat, Stefanie Overturf wrapped a Christmas present Thursday in the lobby of Briones Transmission and Auto Repair at 2509 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.
"This is awesome," Overturf said. "Right now I am wrapping a remote-controlled car that is a pretty high-ticket item for someone who may not otherwise have gotten any presents."
Overturf and six other volunteers, all connected to Andrew Stillman, owner of Briones Transmission and Auto Repair and Stillman Tree Service, were feverishly wrapping shoes, socks, toys, accessories and other new items inside 25 big boxes donated by Bealls Outlet in response to a call for help by Manatee Children's Services.
"We were asked by Manatee Children Services to help some of the kids who aren't going to have any Christmas presents," Stillman said as he directed a pizza delivery man to unload pies for his volunteer gift wrappers. "So we got on the phone. We were able to get hold of Bealls Outlet and Bill Webster along with Leah Cole and they did the rest."
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During the phone call, Stillman asked Bealls Outlet for five or 10 boxes of shoes because new shoes are the gift that keeps on giving all year long.
Bealls Outlet sent 25 boxes packed with shoes and everything else a child could want, Stillman said.
"Now my only problem is getting it all wrapped and delivered," Stillman added.
Stillman recruited a high-energy bow brigade. Many were fellow members of the Bradenton "Circle of Success" chapter of Business Network International.
"Honestly, we have been so focused on wrapping that we haven't really been kidding and joking around like we usually do," said Overturf, who owns Overturf's Floor and Fabric Care. Her company cleans carpets, tile and other flooring and she's a member of BNI.
The team also included Suzanne Clarke, Cindy Bannister, Erin Jennings and Matthew Lasker.
"It puts a tear in your eye just to be able to help like this," Bannister said as she sat on the floor and wrapped a package. "It's a good feeling to be a part of this."
Stillman recruited Bannister through her husband, Tim, who grinds stumps.
Clarke works for Stillman and she was wrapping gifts at her desk at Briones.
"I was very happy when I was told I was going to be Santa's little helper today," Clarke said. "Andrew is a lovely guy, very kind and very generous,"
Jennings, who owns Accutech Restoration and Remodeling and is a member of BNI, heard of Manatee Children's Services' need from Danielle Foster, a BNI member who works at Manatee Children's Services.
"This effort is to provide Christmas for 50 children in the Manatee Children Services' program," Jennings said.
The "elves" said Manatee Children's Services will deliver toys to 50 children Christmas Eve.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072.