With community contributors giving more than $1.1 million to the 2011-2012 Season of Sharing, the initiative has won a gift of $500,000 from The Patterson Foundation, for a total of $1.6 million, as of Feb. 9, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County announced.
For the third year, The Patterson Foundation matched every new and increased donation.
The Community Foundation already has distributed $410,000 of the funds to 12 human-service agencies in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, enabling them “to continue assisting families with emergency needs while the fundraising campaign continues,” a news release states.
Additional distributions will be made later in the year.
The Community Foundation said 100% of the donations go to direct assistance for families at risk of homelessness. The funds enable social workers in the four participating counties to help hundreds of people with one-time rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and other expenses — up to $1,000 — to stabilize their lives, a foundation news release states.
Once again, Season of Sharing benefited from a partnership of community media groups, Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, said.
“The media is in the for-profit business,” she said. “Yet, they were willing to say this was of higher importance for the community.”
She added, “This is not the norm, but it sets an example that everybody can still be successful in their business but can come together (to help the community).”
Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said: “Since 2009, nine media organizations have joined the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Season of Sharing campaign to spread the word about how the Great Recession was impacting so many families on the verge of homelessness. Thanks to the media partnerships, the annual campaign has generated an outpouring of heartfelt concern and donations by sharing the stories of families trying to do all the right things, yet still finding themselves in a challenging situation. The in-kind support by the media partners has resulted in successfully reaching the goal faster than previous years, raising a record $1.6 million since November.”
Now in its 12th year, the Season of Sharing began as a partnership between the Herald-Tribune Media Group and the Community Foundation. This year, that partnership included The Observer Group, the Bradenton Herald, Sun Newspapers, Sarasota Magazine/Biz941, the Clear Channel radio stations in the region, SNN Local News 6, ABC7, Comcast and Bright House Networks.
The results so far of this latest Season of Sharing, Jacobs said, are “a credit, quite frankly, to every single partner.”
“We cannot have the best impact when we always operate alone,” she said. “We can do good, but we can’t do awesome. Together, we can do awesome.”
Hundreds of people in the community responded to the media partners’ efforts to publicize the 2011-12 campaign, according to the Community Foundation. Additionally, the foundation itself gave the Season of Sharing a $100,000 grant.