Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation Host 11th Annual “Hope for the Holidays” Event
6 Min Read
Written by Doug Milne @PGATOUR
Jim Furyk is used to being noticed. A 17-time PGA TOUR winner, including capturing the 2003 U.S. Open, Furyk has been in golf’s spotlight.
In the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship, Furyk achieved golfing immortality by posting a 12-under 58, the lowest score in a competitive round on TOUR. Since turning 50 in 2020, the North Florida transplant has won three times on PGA TOUR Champions.
Those kinds of accolades are bound to draw attention. On Thursday, though, under a massive white tent in a grass parking lot at TPC Sawgrass, Furyk was just another face in a large crowd. And he couldn’t have felt more at home.
For the 11th consecutive year, the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation held its annual “Hope for the Holidays” community event to help provide relief to food-insecure individuals and families in Northeast Florida.
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday December 8, hundreds of initial volunteers came together in the grass parking lot at TPC Sawgrass to offload, stack and arrange more than 80,000 pieces of food. At 6 p.m. that evening, additional hundreds of students, families and other volunteers were on hand to fill the bags with food in assembly-line fashion.
Once the bags were filled, they were loaded into 18-wheel trucks, which disappeared into the night to distribute the bags and ensure kids and families had food the following day and into the weekend.
“We are incredibly excited about tonight, our 11th year of doing this,” said Tabitha. “Our first year, we filled 250 bags. Now, we’re at over 5,000 bags of food. It gets distributed all over the city.”
Among those who receive the bags are Title 1 schools, food banks and countless other charitable organizations. This year, they were able to make additional distributions to Feeding Northeast Florida by supplying bakery goods. They also delivered this year to military bases.
In addition to the Furyk’s efforts to alleviate some of the hunger woes which plague society is a strategy to create awareness by involving the community.
“We wanted to pack the meals and get them to those in need, but Tabitha had the idea to involve the community,” Jim said. “First and foremost, there are quite a few people here in the Jacksonville area that are food deprived. They are struggling to find out where that next meal is coming from. I think recognition of the issue here in the community and learning how to give back is what it’s all about.”
“One of the most special things for us to do this is to provide area kids an opportunity to give back,” Tabitha said. “My kids would come home and ask for $5 to give to donate. I’d give them the $5 and they would give it to the teacher to distribute, which is certainly nice. But, there was just no real connection to what they’re doing. This gives them real, hands-on experience to feel the giving during the giving season.”
“Tabitha’s vision for this event is really about bringing the community out,” said Jim. “The Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS is a great PGA TOUR Champions event, through which we raise a lot of money for charity. That helps here, too. But, more than anything, it really is about involving the community together. Families are bringing their kids out to create in them an awareness of the need.”
“It’s just very rewarding to have so many people out,” Tabitha said. “We literally started out with just our family packing these bags over a decade ago. Now, we have hundreds of kids, lacrosse teams, cheerleading squads, honor societies. All these kids coming and having a hands-on way of giving back really is special for us.”
With more than 20 million children at risk of hunger in the United States, many students qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Meal Program at school. A stark reality is that many children fear weekends, as the only assured meals are those provided Monday through Friday at school.
“There are so many families here that really need this,” Tabitha said. “The numbers are growing, so we’re hoping to grow this next year to 6,000 meals we can serve. The need is just so great, so we are really happy to be able to help.”
From day one, giving back has been at the heart of the PGA TOUR and remains as its biggest priority today. Following the lead of many other TOUR players who formed foundations of their own in their own cities, the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation was formed in North Florida in 2010.
“It’s something we always wanted to do,” said Jim. “When we started to scrape the surface here locally a little bit, we were able to determine the need and see how much there was out there. We’re always trying to do more and grow our numbers.”
“Jim has been playing professionally for nearly 30 years now, so we’ve really grown with the TOUR and grown with the giving,” Tabitha said. “It’s a lot like a family. We would go week in and week out, giving back to different communities, which was fantastic. So, to have been able to come back here to North Florida and utilize this community for our own foundation was wonderful. We probably would not have known what to do had we not seen it staged on the PGA TOUR. Now, we’ve been able to learn from that model and make a big difference.”
“For a long time, I kind of lived and died for every shot on TOUR,” Jim admitted. “But, as I got older, started a family and got involved in this community, I began to see that others are not as blessed. I want to reach out and help as much as I can.”
Rather than relish in the success of their creation, the couple – along with everyone at the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation – much prefer to celebrate the collective heart of North Florida.
“It really is a family affair,” Tabitha said. “To be able to watch the community come together to help those that need it is really special.”
With countless professional achievements on the course over the decades, Jim Furyk will forever remain a standout figure. Many times over, he has earned his rightful place in golf’s history books. Standing out for past performances, though, isn’t what inspires him on the more significant stage of life. That motivation comes from being one of many faces in a crowd committed to giving hope for the future of those in need.
“What’s really special for us is the support we’ve received from the community,” said Jim. “We have folks out here in fork lifts, lifting pallets of food onto trucks to be delivered. We have people cutting up boxes, putting out food and bagging it into thousands of bags. As a team, we were able to make this happen. We’re really thankful for the friends and community who have helped us out and share in the vision we have. It’s amazing the number of folks who realize the issues we have and want to come out and help.”