As the Community Foundation’s Season of Sharing campaign approaches the end of its 13th year of fundraising, Roxanne Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, reports that the campaign is tracking close to last year’s success, but that donations are slightly behind.
With funds currently estimated at $550,000, the goal is to raise $1 million by the end of the month. The money raised through the campaign is used to provide emergency assistance to families on the verge of homelessness in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, in the form of rental assistance, utility bills, child care, food vouchers and other expenses.
Last year, the Season of Sharing campaign raised $1.7 million and provided assistance to 2,600 families, and Jerde says she hopes to see contributions continue to come in as the holidays approach.
“As people recognize that the need is still there and how effectively the funds are distributed, I think we’ll continue to see donations come in,” said Jerde. “We track the frequency of families getting Season of Sharing assistance year to year, and we’re not seeing families use these funds year after year. These programs are really doing some good. They’re helping to propel families forward and not backward.”
The campaign provides financial assistance to local organizations, which is critical in helping them serve the community. In August, All Faiths Food Bank experienced its most severe food shortage and, according to Executive Director Sandra Frank, funds from Season of Sharing allowed the organization to restock its shelves.
“We were literally without food,” she said. “Our shelves were bare. We sent out the alarm, and Season of Sharing came through with a $45,000 gift, practically overnight, and we were able to go out and purchase food to distribute. That was really a godsend for us in that scary time.”
As the month comes to an end, Jerde says she wants to reminds donors that every contribution makes a difference, no matter how small.
“Sometimes, people think that a $10 or $15 donation isn’t significant, but they really do add up, and it shows how we care for our fellow neighbors,” said Jerde. “It’s our friends, families and colleagues who might be getting helped. It’s such a wonderful way to show gratitude for what you have.”