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Sassafras Secret Santa...Revisited!

Remember Operation Secret Santa from late December? Well, we have several updates to share on the blog this week. We’re thrilled to share even more impactful stories of giving from Geoff and Jenny Holton, Trevor Barley, Heather Sharbaugh, and more!

Veterans Community Project

The Veterans Community Project in Kansas City, Mo., is an organization that provides housing and other necessary life skills and opportunities to homeless veterans. They have a neighborhood of 49 tiny transitional homes for these veterans to assist them in getting off the streets and into employment and permanent housing.

Geoff and Jenny took their family out to this community to donate food, toiletries and a custom Share a Coke bottle with their individual names on each of the bottles.

“While it pulls at the heart tremendously to learn more about what our veterans are enduring in their lives, the experience at the Veterans Community Project is a very happy one. It was a treat for our whole family to enjoy the experience together,” expressed Geoff.

The Holton and Scherzer families include veterans and they learned about VCP from the news when Chiefs’ players and politicians (local and national) visited there over the past few years.

Safe Animal Shelter

Trevor Barley still had $100 left as part of his Sassafras Secret Santa and decided to support the local Safe Animal Shelter, which is a nonprofit organization working to reduce the number of cats and dogs euthanized in Clay and Duval Counties in Northeast Florida and the surrounding areas. They became the first no-kill shelter in the area in 1991. All services they provide the community are funded by individual and business donations, grants from charitable foundations, pet adoption fees, and fundraising activities held throughout the year.

Trevor explains, “Instead of just handing them $100, it was more meaningful and fun for us to provide them with things that are on their list of needs for all the wonderful animals. Off we went to a few stores and were able to grab quite a few items. We then delivered the assortment of gifts and the staff was so appreciative of it all. They are great people doing great things for animals.”

Jacksonville Pet Food Pantry

Krista Savage explains how she spent her money by saying, “For Sassy Secret Santa, I helped to stock our local animal shelter’s Pet Food Pantry. All items donated go toward helping local families who may not be able to afford food or supplies for their pets. With so many affected by COVID-19, the need for donations was greater than ever. Without help from the community, these pets would have been at greater risk of going hungry, being surrendered to the shelter or outright abandoned because their families could not afford to take care of them. Thanks to Sassafras’ generosity, many First Coast pet owners were able to keep their beloved fur friends fed, safe and happy this holiday season.

Local Jacksonville Food Drive

Shannon Baldwin used her money to buy food for children in need in her community. The items were used to create lunch bags for children going without.

Great Plains SPCA

Heather Sharbaugh donated to a charity near and dear to her heart, the Great Plains SPCA, which works to make the lives of community pets better! Support helps keep animals in their care healthy, with adoption fees, for foster care, and provides education for families.


Ashley Scherzer and family supported their local waitresses at Margaritas on SW Blvd in KC. Ashley says, "We know how hard it’s been for food service workers. We picked Margaritas because it is my mother-in-law's favorite spot. She lives in an assisted living now and has not been able to go out and eat there, which she used to be able to do pre-COVID. She’s been going to that Margaritas for over 20 years. The waitresses there have taken such good care of her over the years and treat her like a queen when she’s there. They were extremely grateful and humble."

Homeless Kind Bags

Our winter intern, Christy Kentfield, made “Kind Bags” to hand out to the homeless around Kansas City. She says, “I was able to gather hygiene products, snacks, and socks for the homeless individuals to use throughout the winter. I was able to make 10 bags to hand out! My family and I went down to the Plaza on Christmas Eve and handed out some of the bags to people who were in need. We then decided to keep the remaining bags in our cars to hand out over time for when we encountered a homeless person. Seeing the gratitude on the homeless individuals' faces made me very thankful for this experience and Sassafras!”


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