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Christmas Gift Giving Is a
Tradition with BJ and Pablo
inding unusual
Christmas gifts
for friends who
had everything was
difficult, so BJ Meeks
and Pablo Perez, of
Wellington, started a
tradition over 25 years
ago. They invite friends
to contribute to a party
for working poor families
in Palm Beach County
at the Caridad Center in
Boynton Beach, Florida,
in lieu of personal gift
From that modest
$5,000 cash in the
first year, estimates
are that more than $1
million in cash has
been raised. The figure
does not include in-kind
contributions of toys,
catering, and gifts from
friends of Meeks and
Perez.  All fund-raising
costs are underwritten,
that Caridad
receives 100 percent of
the money raised.
BJ and Pablo and
their friends were so
unassuming that it was
only in the last few
years, and at the urging
of Caroline Moran,
another major Caridad
benefactor, that the
Wellington Equestrian
Group was adopted as
the official name of the loose-knit organization.
Lately, the Christmas party has been held at the
Wellington Horse Show grounds in a huge tent that
accommodates 600 kids and hundreds of volunteers.
It’s not “Oprah” or “Ellen,” but every kid who attends
the Caridad Center Christmas Party goes away with
gifts and their parents get food vouchers thanks to the
efforts of the two Wellington residents.
Scarlet Fave, Caridad Social Services Coordinator,
noted Wellington equestrian Nancy Hooker and Moran
collect gift wishes from the parents of hundreds
of Caridad children. Assisted by amateur division
equestrian Bruce Duchossois, Moran and hundreds of
volunteers purchase toys on the list and more, and
store them for the big
event. Tim Gannon,
co-founder of Outback
Steakhouse and his
employees are major
supporters, cooking
and serving lunch for
more than 600 kids and
volunteers. Goodie
bags are also stuffed
with books donated by
Barnes & Noble and the
Riggio family. Horse
show and equestrian
photographer James
Parker makes sure the
party is well chronicled.
Since 2008
Wellington Equestrian
Group has raised nearly
$300,000 to underwrite
the annual Christmas
Party. Funds purchase
gift certificates
Christmas dinners for
every family attending
the party. Donations also
purchase backpacks
and back-to-school
clothing, books, college
scholarships, a summer
camp, support for the
Caridad Girl Scout
Troop and a trip for
Caridad youngsters to
Washington D.C.
“We get more out of
helping these kids and
their families than we
give,” BJ said. “In the
beginning asking for
money was a burden, but I soon found that people want to
help if they know what the need is and how they can help.
The fact that the money raised goes directly to benefit the
kids, makes it all worthwhile. Our joy comes from knowing
we are underwriting a world-class organization so that kids
can be healthy, get a good education and have an opportunity
for a life beyond working in the fields.”
This year Caridad Center will present the Wellington
Equestrian Group and BJ and Pablo with the Constance Ber-
ry Award at the 11th Annual Caridad Center Gala, December
For more Information go to
c=events&srctype=detail&refno=50&category=Event. Or call
Anna Marie King at (561) 737-6336 Ext. 100.
BJ Meeks and Pablo Perez at the 2010 Caridad Center Christmas
party at the Wellington Horse Show Grounds