Just call Kelly Kingston the "Surfin' Santa."
At Christmastime six years ago, the surfer and Lake Worth resident tried hawking her surfboard on Craigslist, with no takers. She decided to donate it to the child who wrote the most compelling letter for wanting a board, prompting her friends to coin the festive moniker.
Kingston's moment of generosity blossomed into her nonprofit Share the Stoke Foundation and its 100 Boards Project, which provides free surfboards to disadvantaged children living in beach communities in North, Central and South America. During a Friday night bonfire at the Lake Worth Beach Complex, Kingston will award its 99th and 100th boards to two of its own volunteers, 16-year-old Nicholas Ramirez and 17-year-old Gabriel Mccorry, both of Lake Worth.
"The people who receive boards are just really tied into the community, who want to build a positive surf environment by organizing beach cleanups," says Kingston, 37, of Lake Worth. "They deserve boards. They're in school, not doing drugs and are stoked about the sport."
Friday night's bonfire party will feature a wine and beer garden and live music from Harold Seay, former member of KC and the Sunshine Band, performing with his Boogie Shoes Band. Since January, Share the Stoke Foundation has sought out candidates for its 100 surfboards, each donated by the brand Firewire, in locates as exotic as the island of Isla Fuerte, near Colombia, to the Bocas del Toro province of Panama and to the beach town of Dominical, Costa Rica, along with seven other countries. Kingston says she connected with community leaders and surf resorts at each beach community to handpick the underprivileged children.
Kingston says Ramirez and Mccorry have been active in most the foundation's international (and costly) surfboard giveaways. In late 2012, she says, Ramirez helped Share the Stoke Foundation collect a $20,000 grant from the Chase Community Giving program by rallying local businesses to vote for the nonprofit in a Facebook contest. Mccorry, meanwhile, has volunteered at the foundation for three years, organizing several beach cleanups and barbecues.
"I may have to tell them that their boards can't be given away to other kids. They've got to keep them," Kingston jokes. "They're number-one dudes to me."
The Share the Stoke Foundation bonfire takes place at 6 p.m. at the Lake Worth Beach Complex, 10 Ocean Blvd, Lake Worth. Free. 561.603.3055 or SharetheStokeFoundation.com.