Although Hurricane Ian brought terrible devastation to many people in our region, it also reminded us of what makes our community so special.
Assisting with storm shutters, giving rides to shelters, sharing power from a generator to charge cell phones, pitching in to clear debris, or cooking a hot meal for those without power – each of these simple but meaningful actions reflects the compassion and empathy that makes a community strong.
Our area's compassionate side was especially strong last year during the annual Season of Sharing campaign, which raised a record $4.4 million from the same type of people – residents who recognize their neighbors in need.
For 22 years now, the people of our region have made it possible for Season of Sharing to help people who have hit a rough patch and are struggling to get by.
It doesn't always take a tragedy for a family to lose their footing. For many in our area, a single paycheck can mean the difference between housing and homelessness, fixing a car or losing a job, paying for medicine or going without.
Created in 2000 as a partnership between the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Herald-Tribune, Season of Sharing is a trusted way for people to provide a helping hand to fellow residents experiencing a personal crisis.
Funds are distributed through a responsive network of nonprofit human service agencies across Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. There are no administrative fees, which means that every dollar donated goes to the people in need.
The campaign has distributed more than $34 million to keep more than 41,000 families and individuals in their homes since it began.
Over the past year, reporter Saundra Amrhein has chronicled the very human stories of people who have been given a hand up by Season of Sharing, from a single father of two young boys who lost his childcare to a school psychologist who suffered a terrible personal tragedy.
Saundra will introduce you to more of our neighbors who have been brave enough to share their stories of overcoming challenges during this year's Season of Sharing campaign.
According to the many nonprofit caseworkers she has interviewed over the past year, our region's need is growing as we struggle to overcome the effects of the pandemic and the damage of Hurricane Ian, combined with an astounding increase in rent and a historic lack of affordable housing.
The Patterson Foundation has generously offered to continue its support of Season of Sharing by contributing $100,000 for every $500,000 raised by the community through January 31, 2023. Last year, that amounted to an extra $700,000 for people in need, the Foundation's largest contribution ever to the effort.
In the end, though, this is all about you, and the kind of simple but meaningful acts that come from a desire to help build a stronger, more resilient community. We know that generous, caring people will step forward again, as they have so many times in the past, to lift up their neighbors in need through the promise of Season of Sharing.
How to help
Season of Sharing was created 21 years ago as a partnership between the Herald-Tribune and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to get emergency funds to individuals and families on the brink of homelessness in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. There are no administrative fees and no red tape – every dollar donated goes to families in need to help with rental assistance, utility bills, child care and other expenses.
Donations to Season of Sharing may be made online at cfsarasota.org/donors/support-season-of-sharing, or by sending a check (payable to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County) to Attn. Season of Sharing, 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237. Contact the foundation at 941-955-3000 for more information or to request a credit card form. All donations are tax-deductible.
See this Op-Ed as it originally appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on Nov. 13, 2022, here.