Giving back during Christmas



ST. PETESBURG – Christmas came early this year for some 50 families around the community in need of a helping hand.

“I just got a call yesterday from the director asking me to be here at 7:30 in the morning,” said Moneshea Harris.

Harris had no idea when she dropped her two-year-old daughter off for school at UMCM Early Learning Center at McCabe Wednesday morning that she would be the recipient of a $100 Visa gift card from Attorney James Flynn, also known as “Your Southside Lawyer.”

“This is all about Christmas, it’s about community and we’re giving back,” said Flynn.

The idea came about when Jeff Copeland, executive director of the Pinellas County Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was having lunch with Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.

Copeland, looking for ways to help families have a merry Christmas, took Tomalin’s suggestion of teaming up with the St. Petersburg Police Department and distributing needed holiday cheer to those less fortunate.

Once Flynn heard about the idea, he quickly got on board by offering to pay.

“Today I really saw the true meaning of giving by seeing the expressions on people’s faces. It touched my heart,” said Copeland.

Tiffany Cohen and her partner Gina Sims were elated to get some extra help for their son. In the process of adopting nine-month-old Codi, they are appreciative for any help that’s out there.

Five parents in total were chosen by center Director Toshiko Pinckney, who was also instrumental in helping Copeland identify other families in the community along with city workers and the police department.

“The St. Petersburg Police Department is the bedrock of the community,” said Flynn. “Any time you can partner up with law enforcement, it’s a good thing. We need them and they need us.”

Escorted by a slew of officers, Flynn and Copeland finished handing out the gifts cards well into the afternoon.

“It was a great day,” said Copeland.

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