Season of Sharing: A vital community asset

Categories: COMMUNITY CARE: Placemaking: Housing, Transportation & Economic Support, COMMUNITY CARE: Preventing Homelessness, Season of Sharing,

Our community’s assets are measured in many ways: home sales, business incubation, school grades, “Top Places To…” lists, cultural and nature-based experiences, and on and on.

These indicators are important and commendable. But in our view the richness of our community is most evident when we look at how we care for neighbors in need.

Over the last 24 years, more than 38,000 people have made gifts to what is a defining characteristic of our community’s philanthropic culture: Season of Sharing. This vital safety net has transformed the outcomes for tens of thousands of individuals and families – and in doing so, it has helped to create a better quality of life for our entire community.

Season of Sharing began in the year 2000 as a simple, yet effective and efficient, way for each of us to lessen the burden when a missed paycheck, a medical emergency or an unexpected disaster happens – and it continues to be called upon as a stabilizing force in a dynamic time.

There is no single profile for households living on the edge of financial crisis. These last several years have shown us that hurricanes, pandemics and shifting economic realities can affect everyone from young families to our many retirees.

In the coming weeks you will read in the Herald-Tribune about aging adults whose retirement plans have drastically changed, young families attempting to build safe homes and careers, and many more who are coping with challenges they never expected.

These stories may surprise and inspire you, or sadden and frustrate you, but each story is a gift. The gift is to remember that all who offer us a glimpse of their lives at their most vulnerable moments for these stories were helped by readers like you.

With the aid of nonprofit partners and caseworkers, the support offered through Season of Sharing covers the one-time cost of rent, utilities, car repairs and child care. Thanks to this help, our neighbors can get back on their feet and regain some stability and peace of mind in their daily lives, whether that means going to a classroom, office or community center with a little less stress, thanks to people in the community where they live.

We ask our community to step up once again to help our fellow neighbors and join us in making a contribution to Season of Sharing. To strengthen giving and community support, The Patterson Foundation has graciously offered once more a match of $100,000 for every $500,000 donated by the public from now through Jan. 31, 2024.

To date, $7.5 million has been granted in matching funds from The Patterson Foundation, plus the Community Foundation of Sarasota County administers the year-round efforts free of charge so that 100% of each donation goes directly to help those in need.

Giving is easy. If you have given before, be on the lookout for a letter arriving at your home this week. You will also find coupons in the pages of the Herald-Tribune, and you can donate online at However you choose to give, and whatever amount, all gifts make a difference.

Know that your contribution will have a longstanding impact that changes the fate of individuals in our community-wide family for the better. The hope and vitality your support will generate to help our neighbors is immeasurable, and most definitely counts.