Once Cat Depot scratches its way to the top of a survey, it’s hard to pull them back down again. The no-kill cat rescue once again was the top charity selected by our readers. But Marie Selby Botanical Gardens also sprung up as first runner-up this year, and Easter Seals of Southwest Florida finished with a strong showing as second runner-up. Goodwill Manasota rounds out the lists of finalists as third runner-up. 

Carole Kay (on Cat Depot): The staff and the hundreds of volunteers working at the Cat Depot are dedicated to saving and improving the lives and fates of helpless animals. They are selfless in the hours they work and exhibit a real compassion for the fates of the cats that are rescued and abandoned. Southwest Florida is enriched by these individuals who look out of themselves to better their world by caring for homeless cats. The kindness and compassion of the staff and volunteers extends beyond the animals to their fellow humans, making Southwest Florida a kinder, gentler place to live. Michael Ann Wells (on Selby Gardens): Selby Gardens provides a unique urban oasis along Sarasota’s downtown waterfront that distinguishes Sarasota from anywhere else in Florida. Just walk under the banyans on a hot summery day to feel the difference—like the a/c is on! Jennifer Steube (on Goodwill): I love Goodwill Manasota because they help people by giving them a purpose—a job. Also they provide necessary resources for our veterans. They have given me a new place to shop, which allows me to give back to my community, and that’s important to me.