Season of Sharing raises more than $4 million for Sarasota, Manatee residents in crisis

Categories: Stories of Impact, COMMUNITY CARE: Placemaking: Housing, Transportation & Economic Support, Season of Sharing,

Following what was possibly one of its most critical fundraising campaigns ever, this year's Season of Sharing campaign saw $4.21 million in community donations – the second-highest amount raised in the fund's 24-year history.

By the season's close at the end of January, more than 2,600 contributions had been made by donors of all means during the three-month campaign, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County announced.

The donations included $700,000 in matching gifts by The Patterson Foundation, which commits every year to giving $100,000 for each block of $500,000 raised from the community for Season of Sharing.

This year was only the second time that donations topped $4 million since the Community Foundation and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune launched Season of Sharing in 2000 to help prevent homelessness.

The $4.21 million total was just shy of the $4.4 million record set two years ago.

As in the past, the monies will be distributed year-round through area nonprofits to residents in crisis in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties. The assistance covers one-time emergency expenses in rent or mortgage payments, utilities, childcare or vehicle repairs.

"It is so uplifting to see how year after year Season of Sharing affirms our community's generous nature and that we have dedicated, vibrant supporters and nonprofit partners who are changing our community for the better," said Roxie Jerde, President and CEO of the Community Foundation.

"Season of Sharing demonstrates how much we can accomplish when we work together to transform lives, whatever our means."

This past year had been especially dire for residents, with the Community Foundation and its partner agencies witnessing unprecedented levels of requests for help.

Case managers had attributed the spike to pressures from the ongoing housing crisis compounded by the end of pandemic relief, ongoing effects from Hurricane Ian, lost work hours, high childcare costs and the summer heat wave.

The increased cases of hardship caused the fund and its reserve to be drawn down, adding to the importance of this year's fundraising effort.

The Community Foundation credited part of its success to some of the very people who had benefitted from Season of Sharing in the past – by sharing their stories in the pages of the Herald-Tribune.

Those who did so, the foundation noted, are just a few of the thousands who are helped each year – a total of almost 49,000 households in the fund's history – in a broad-based community-wide campaign.

"The idea of 'Neighbors helping neighbors' goes beyond just words," said Debra Jacobs, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. "It captures the very heart of our community's spirit."

While fundraising for the campaign officially runs from November through January, donations to the Season of Sharing fund are accepted all year and may be made online here or by sending a check (payable to Community Foundation of Sarasota County) to Attn: Season of Sharing, 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237. There are no administrative fees and 100% of the money raised goes to recipients' emergency expenses. All donations are tax-deductible.