About Bright Holidays

Our Mission: Bright Holidays mission is to help improve the lives of underprivileged students and their families in the greater Jacksonville area during the holiday season.

Bight Holidays Schools in Jacksonville

Bringing Joy to Children in Need

Bright Holidays, a recognized public charity, helps underprivileged students and families in the greater Jacksonville, Florida area during the holiday season. Bright Holidays raises funds locally and works with school principals in the community to identify children in need of clothing and food. Bright Holidays operates on a seasonal basis, relies solely on volunteer efforts, and operates with no fixed expenses.

Every child we serve receives new shoes & socks, pants & underwear, shirt & jacket, plus a sleeping bag, book, and toy. The family also receives grocery gift cards with $50 to $150 value (depending on family size).

2022 Holiday Season Results

Bright Holidays served 985 children with holiday gifts, through our partnership with 45 schools. Approximately 10,000 gift items (all new) were either donated, or purchased using cash from generous donors.

Founded in 2003

Bright Holidays, founded in 2003, became a public charity in 2005 upon recognition as a 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Sylvia Johnson, principal of Eugene J. Butler Middle School and former principal of West Jacksonville Elementary School inspired the concept and John Forrester, a local business executive, founded the organization.

John established our Board of Directors, led our fundraising efforts, and continually expanded Bright Holidays' outreach until transitioning to our current leadership in 2015.

Inaugural efforts, before the establishment of any organization or certification by the IRS, raised approximately $15,000 which benefited nearly 200 elementary school students and their families. Since becoming a 501(c)(3) organization, Bright Holidays has grown enormously, reaching over 1000 students and their families in recent years.

Today, Bright Holidays' Board of Directors is comprised of local business leaders and educators. In addition, Bright Holidays has recruited volunteer workers and enjoys relationships with local professional firms to provide pro bono accounting, communications, legal and technology services. As a result of its volunteer Board and these relationships, Bright Holidays requires no operating capital, and last year used 98% of funds directly on gifts.

What Others are Saying about Bright Holidays

“Thank You, Thank You, Thank You”! A single mother of three shared that this was the first time they were able to have a real Christmas with gifts and a Christmas dinner since relocating to Jacksonville three years ago. Another parent was in tears when I presented the gift card for Winn Dixie. She kept repeating, “You don’t know how much we need this”. This is what Bright Holidays is all about. She was laid off from work and wasn’t sure how she was going to feed her children.


Gregory Drive Elementary

One of our recipients is homeless and living in a hotel. When the gifts were delivered to her, the mom was so emotional. She gave us a huge hug and cried while she thanked us and told us how much that meant for her and her daughter. They are currently having a rough time and Bright Holidays was a true blessing.


Chets Creek Elementary

Every step in the Bright Holidays program was well organized, and enjoyable to participate in. It was simply amazing to see the thousands of items on sorting day! Sorting out the items was a wonderful experience, smooth, quick, and efficient. It was with great joy, that we were able to see our students wearing and using gifts that were wrapped for them. It was clear that this program provided things for each student that they would otherwise not have. This program exists to provide children with joy, and that was well achieved!


Neptune Beach Elementary