BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN READY TO LEAVE — Neighborhood Center workers Jerry Sanchez, left, and Brian Barber flank Wes Byron, the head fowl overseeing the distribution of donated turkeys to nonprofit organizations at DaVita Labs in DeLand. About 100 turkeys were given away to DeLand-area groups.

One of the major downsides of the coronavirus pandemic is that this holiday season, more families are hungry or don’t have the resources to provide toys for their children.

A number of companies are trying to address one or both of those needs. Here are three businesses that are doing so, but undoubtedly, there are many others who are or soon will be making the holidays brighter for Floridians in need.

DaVita Labs, a provider of kidney-care services from its facility at the DeLand Airport Northwest Industrial Park, recently handed out 100 free turkeys to five nonprofit social-service organizations and the DeLand Fire Department.

General Manager Keri Wagner told The Beacon that DaVita Labs traditionally had a catered Thanksgiving meal for its workers. But last year, because of pandemic restrictions, it couldn’t be held. So the company bought more than 360 turkeys to be handed out to each employee.

“Last year, we wanted to do something impactful, so we told the employees they could keep their turkeys or donate them to charity,” Wagner said.

With pandemic restrictions looser but still in place, and a catered meal still not appropriate, DaVita decided to once again give employees turkeys they could keep or donate.

The result is that five groups are getting free birds: The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, Stetson Baptist Church, Family Renew Community, the First Assembly Food Pantry, and the Radiant Life Assembly Food Pantry.

In addition, DaVita Labs donated turkeys to the DeLand Fire Department to help feed firefighters who will be on duty Thanksgiving Day.

On a wider front, Launch Credit Union is accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys to benefit Toys for Tots in all its lobbies — including those at 301 W. New York Ave. in DeLand and 2277 Veterans Memorial Parkway in Orange City — through Dec. 10.

The Melbourne-based financial institution also is holding a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Canned and boxed food items are being accepted at all Launch CU branches in Brevard and Volusia counties, also through Dec. 10.

All items must be unopened. Visit the Second Harvest Food Bank website ( and click “Ways to Help” to view the list of the most critically needed items, or make a monetary donation on the site.

For more information, go to or call 321-455-9400.

Also, two doctors are continuing their tradition of giving back to the community. Cardiologist Dr. Ratan K. Ahuja and his pulmonologist wife, Dr. Karuna Ahuja, are hosting the Gift of Giving Holiday Food & Toy Drive. The doctors are providing the goodies that will be given away Dec. 17, beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting as long as supplies allow.

Santa Claus will join the doctors in handing out 500 packages to help prepare holiday dishes at their joint practice. Florida Cardiopulmonary Center is at 915 Harley Strickland Blvd. in Orange City, northeast of the traffic signal at Threadgill Drive.

For more information, call 386-456-0300 or go to



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here