A meal, clothes, toys, pride, and dignity wrapped up and under the tree

Many families, not just in Flagler County but also across the country, were already living on razor-thin margins when the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 hit. But when the bubble burst, insult was added to injury. 

“Here at the beach, we had been experiencing a building boom and everyone came here to build a house,” says Nadine King, a longtime Flagler resident and founder of Christmas Come True. 

She said many homes were built and bought as investments and rented out to families. 

“Then it all crashed, and no one was paying mortgages,” says King. “The homes were foreclosed [on] and the [banks] were evicting people. Then, [we] had all these families who were homeless. But we are a small community, … [we] never had a homeless problem here, and there were no resources to protect them.”

King said she saw this happening and felt overwhelmed emotionally.

“I thought, ‘OK, what can I do?’ and that’s when I instituted Christmas Come True in 2009.”

Christmas Come True is a way to help families in need with a personalized Christmas dinner, new clothes and toys, and Christmas stockings filled with hygiene items and goodies for parents to give to their children. They also help in other ways throughout the year. 

“That first year I knew I couldn’t take care of everyone, but I could do the best I could,” says King.“

She went around door-to-door to businesses asking for donations. She reached out to others in the community. Items began coming together.

“It was very personal to me,” King says. “The very first year, I think within three or four months, we were able to get what we needed and create the program out of the guest bedroom in my little condo here and provide for 54 families.” 

Fast-forward a decade, and in 2019 Christmas Come True assisted 155 families that included 441 children out of a 10,000-square-foot space.

Christmas Come True begins with an application process for families and a vetting process. 

“Also, I have some families that we help every year,” say King. “We have grandparents that are in their 70s and 80s that have had to take on their grandchildren; these are people that only live on retirement, just their retirement, and all of a sudden they’ve had to take on their grandchildren.

“We also reach out to others. There are so many people that have ill parents, moms, single moms that have had heart attacks, or have cancer, and they’re trying to get disability. And it takes months sometimes years to get disability. So we focus on families like these, they get things they really need.”

After an interview with the adults, King and her volunteers find out the needs of the families and of the kids and list them out. 

“We put up some Christmas trees out in the community,” King says. “And on the trees we have these wish cards that I have created with a little pouch on the back with two lists; one list is for clothing and one is for toys. Some people love to buy clothing, while others love to buy books and toys, so I tried to make it very friendly for the people who are purchasing for these families.”

King says there are usually 30 trees located throughout Flagler; visit the group’s website or Facebook page for updates on locations. 

Folks who purchase the items wrap, tag, and return them back to the store; King and her team pick them up and take them to a large space to sort out and get ready for distribution along with food and other treats for the families. 

“We also talk with the adults about what to do for Christmas dinner when the kids are not around,” King says. “We want to make it personal, so it’s about us finding out what’s their favorite vegetables? Their favorite salad dressing? Their favorite pies? Do they love rolls? 

“All of those things, then we give it to the parents to prepare for the family. It’s the Christmas dinner the parents would have gone out and bought for their children if they were able to. It’s not about us.”

Pickup for food and items from the Christmas tree lists are coordinated at one of King’s corporate partners, Publix. Folks drive up, grab their items, get a hug, and are off to celebrate the holidays. 

King says Christmas Come True is funded with monetary and in-kind donations, sponsors, and proceeds from Begin Again Home Goods, a store that sells donated and consigned home good items.

“It’s a nice little store with furniture and home goods that we sell,” says King. “What we are hoping is that we will be able to pay 100 percent of our bills for Christmas Come True because that means that every dollar someone donates to the program would actually go to it. That’s my goal.”

“So all of this is about the parents, and it’s about the children. It’s about having pride, and it’s about having dignity,” says King. 

“There [are] toys, there [are] clothes, there’s a brand new bicycle, and there’s this huge dinner that you never expected. Yes, that’s what it is. You know, that’s the feeling that I want every parent to be able to have that although I couldn’t do it, strangers loved me enough to give to my family.

“And now they can hold their heads up high. Now they can have a great day with their children. That’s, that’s the image that I want for each parent to be able to give to their children. It cuts down on bullying. It cuts down on children’s depression. Maybe just for a little while.

“So that’s kind of my dream.”


Christmas Come True is a volunteer non-profit 501(c)3, assisting families in Flagler County. For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer, visit their website or Facebook page:



Or call 1-386-302-1290

Begin Again Home Goods is at 2729 E. Moody Blvd., Bunnell, Fla. For information on donating, shopping, or volunteering, call 1-386-302-1290

Patrick Evans-Hylton is an award-winning journalist, having covered a wide variety of topics in broadcast, electronic, and print media since 1995.