What do you get when you mix a dozen generous volunteers bearing gifts and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus? Happy kids. That is what happened when volunteer “elves” loaded down with gifts donated by Reflections Hair Gallery and Spa and others from the Birthday Bunch visited A Kid’s Place at 1715 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon.

A Kid’s Place is a unique program designed to support the foster care system by providing emergency residential care for siblings.  Until 2009, a sibling group of two, three or more children sheltered due to abuse were often separated and sent to different foster families and group homes according to availability, age or special needs. Children at A Kid’s Place reside in a home-like setting with live-in house parents.  Members of a particular sibling group are housed in the same home to provide consistency for the family unit.  This model is paramount to the family’s development: providing a safe, stable and loving environment.

The Birthday Bunch was started by Betsy Moriarty, Magda Sinacore and Madeline Aponte, all who felt a need to help celebrate the kids. Moriarty stated, “On the second Wednesday of each month, the birthday children are gathered and served pizza donated from Domino’s on S. Dale Mabry, chips and lemonade.  A birthday cake is provided by Kathy Bass of Kathy’s Cakes and a different theme is chosen each month.” These ladies and their volunteers are so loving and dedicated to bringing some joy into the children’s lives.

Koryn Kleist, owner of Reflections Hair Gallery and Spa at 2609 E. State Rd. 60 in Valrico, and staff Laura Clark and Amy Wiesenhart collected gifts from the salon staff and clients alike and brought them to be placed under each tree, with Reflections’ focus on the teens. Each of the kids’ houses went to visit Santa for pictures while the “elves” placed the presents for each child under the trees in all of the five houses. Milk and holiday cookies were also provided.  Kleist said, “We wanted to do something as a salon, so the teen girls and a few boys were given a $50 gift card and will be brought to the salon to have their hair styled and nails done.” Hair bows for styling were provided by Meredith Rice of Girlie Bows Galore.

The kids and “elves” had a great time opening gifts.  For more about A Kid’s Place, located at 1715 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. Brandon, call 381-3839 or visit www.akidsplace.org. To learn more about Reflections, call 681-5300 or visit www.reflectionshairgallery.com.


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Suzy Wiesenhart
Suzy is one of the Advertising Representatives for the Riverview area. She started with the Osprey as an advertising assistant in 2008 and has various positions since then. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Riverview Chamber of Commerce. She has lived in Bloomingdale with her husband, Tom for the last 22 years.