Altruism Finds a Home

Season of Sharing


During the recent holiday season, two mysterious, yet notable donations arrived at the Community Foundation of Sarasota on behalf of the Season of Sharing. Since then, these anonymous donors have come forth to reveal their identities and although neither woman knew the other, their stories have many uncanny and inspiring similarities. Both chose to move to Sarasota in the 1990s from large northern cities where they had found great success in their careers. Between them, was shared a common belief in the importance of education, engaging in activism and exhibiting a resilient passion for philanthropy. They had each lost their husbands, but were continuing their respective missions to do what came naturally to them—giving back.

Gerri Aaron and Jacqueline Lewis demonstrated that commitment when they decided to become moving pieces in the effort to help the Season of Sharing community, each making a $100,000 donation to this year’s campaign. Who are these astonishingly generous women, and what inspired them to donate such a significant sum to this specific foundation?  

Gerri is a familiar face in Sarasota, and has known about the Season of Sharing, even donated to the campaign in the past. The difference this time was an emotional, deeply-personal urge to make a major gesture. “I just had to do it,” she says, “I wanted to do something really nice.” Jacqueline picked up the Herald-Tribune on her way to the airport and happened to notice one of the edition’s ads for the Season of Sharing with the following in print “Fill in the blank and send this in.” Jacqueline was unfamiliar about the campaign, so she looked it up online and ended up writing a check and sending it in. She believes that people feel the humanitarian impulse more than they may realize, “It’s natural for everyone when they see a situation where someone is in need, to at least entertain the thought of ‘what should I do?’ You see somebody falling down in the street. Now some people will walk away, but most people do what needs to be done. So for the person who normally does that, maybe they realize how good they feel. It’s a wonderful thing to do, to give as much as you can.”

The women’s contributions will be advised by the team at the Community Foundation to make sure it goes exactly where it is most needed. These women prove that despite any heartache or triumphs, a little human love goes a long, long way.

The Patterson Foundation will match every $500,000 that is raised in the community through the Season of Sharing with an additional contribution of $100,000. There will be no cap on this offer, and it stands until the end of this month.

About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County: The Community Foundation is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of over $333 million in more than 1,400 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling more than $33 million dollars this past year in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, animal welfare, and the environment. Since our founding, more than $217 million has been invested back into the community through grants and scholarships.

Season of Sharing

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