Justin Pepper Foundation: NCF Helps Columbia Controllers Donate to Toy Drive
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF), with the help of many charitable volunteers, supports numerous programs across the country to benefit the common welfare. Recently, NCF lent a helping hand to the Justin Pepper Foundation, a nonprofit formed in Oct. 2007 after Columbia controller James Pepper’s son, Justin, passed away in a tragic motor vehicle accident at a mere 11 years old.
“When I first transferred to Columbia, S.C. I kept hearing people at work mention the Justin Pepper Foundation,” said Columbia controller James Gomes, who recently became involved with the nonprofit. “It seemed that everyone at the facility was involved or had contributed to the foundation in one way or another.“
Justin was a very giving kid and to honor his kindness to others, the Justin Pepper Foundation provides various charitable relief efforts to those in need. It provides temporary housing to those faced with unforeseen circumstances, such as a fire or flood. The foundation also collects used sporting goods to distribute to children through Justin’s Locker and sponsors a space at the YMCA, Justin’s Space, with activities for kids to enjoy after school and during summer day-care programs.
The NCF became involved in Dec. 2011 with the Justin Pepper Foundation after Gomes requested their help with its annual charitable event, Birthday Breakfast and Toy Drive.
“It seemed like a perfect fit,” said Gomes. “It is a charity that supports the local community of Columbia and also happens to be run by a NATCA member.”
The Birthday Breakfast and Toy Drive is an ongoing tradition that started with Justin’s giving spirit. He started helping kids at the Thornwell Children’s Home every December since his birthday, Dec. 1, fell so close to Christmas. Every Christmas Eve he would take his birthday presents to his church, Lake Murray Presbyterian, to be then handed out at the Children’s Home on Christmas day.
On the first Saturday of December, the Birthday Breakfast and Toy Drive is hosted in honor of Justin. NATCAvists and family members joined Gomes at Target with a generous donation provided by NCF. Not only were they able to buy toys for children, but also give gift cards from local grocery stores so that families were able to enjoy a nice Holiday dinner.
“The Justin Pepper Foundation has touched the lives of many individuals in the community,” said Gomes. “What impresses me the most is seeing someone create so much good out of such a tragedy.”
To learn more about both charities you can visit the Justin Pepper Foundation website at www.justinpepper.com and the NATCA Charitable Foundation web site at ncf.natca.net.
Pictured above left to right: Heather Slater, Makida Bridges, Braeden Slater, Angelo Carioscia, Staci Rohan, James Gomes, Reid Driggers, Kailyn Slater, James Driggers, and Kristin Driggers.