Giving Hope to our Neighbors

Guest Correspondence

For so many of us, our sunny stretch of coast represents a warm escape to a cultural oasis filled with world-class artistic treasures and a toast to a social scene orbiting around exquisite dining and attractions. Beneath these features for which we have so much pride as a community is a deep sense of compassion from both long-time residents and visitors who care about our neighbors in need.

There’s no better example of our caring empathy than the way we have come forth as a community to support struggling individuals and families through the Season of Sharing campaign for the past 15 years.

Together we have raised $13 million from donations ranging from $5 to many thousands of dollars, giving a vital safety net to more than 12,000 families in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties who were on the verge of losing their homes. Last year alone, multiple funding partners and the public raised more than $2 million to ensure that thousands of families, seniors and individuals will keep a roof over their heads this year.

Despite an improving local economy, many hardworking people find it consistently harder to bridge the gap to an economically stable life.  Circumstances beyond their control have turned what might be a minor inconvenience to some into a critical emergency that threatens their ability to stay in their home.

Seniors sometimes find themselves alone and, despite years of planning, have medical expenses that stretch their budgets to the point where essentials of rent and electricity cannot be covered. Single parents struggle to get to work when they cannot afford repairs on undependable cars that break down without warning. In homes where both parents work multiple jobs, losing just one job can be devastating.

How incredible to know that in each of these situations, in our community, these individuals and families can work with caseworkers at local social service organizations and access immediate assistance to stay in their homes. This is the essence of Season of Sharing. It’s a solution that is eight times less expensive than the scenario of getting families back into housing once they have been forced into cars, shelters, or the streets.

The impact of this campaign is remarkable, as well as the collaboration required to pull it off. Season of Sharing is the collective work of many partners who dedicate time, energy, and money. Staff of foundations, nonprofit organizations, and media partners dedicate hundreds of hours of time for project management, administration, and creative planning so that 100 percent of every dollar from the community goes directly to help those in need.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s Giving Tuesday campaign for Season of Sharing raised more than $200,000 in one day with an enormous outpouring of support at all levels.

We have some miles to go in meeting our goal this year. It’s a campaign every citizen owns. And with every $500,000 raised by you—from you—The Patterson Foundation contributes $100,000.

To learn more about Season of Sharing, founding partners the Herald-Tribune Media Group and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and how you can help, visit

Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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