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East County Wednesday, Apr. 7, 2021 1 week ago

East County Library nonprofit books authors for fundraisers

Friends of the East Manatee Library finds ways to raise money for Lakewood Ranch's East County Library.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

The Friends of the East Manatee Library organization knows libraries aren’t just about books.

The nonprofit has been raising money since 2019 to ensure the East County Library planned for Lakewood Ranch has all of the amenities it needs to support Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding area.

Attardi's Pizzeria Owner Mario DePaz hands a check to Friends of the East Manatee Library Treasurer Jim West after a Dine-Out Night. In addition to donating a portion of the proceeds, DePaz made a donation of his own. (Courtesy)

The fundraising effort, though, has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic as many of the fundraisers have been postponed numerous times.

However, the organization continues to seek ways to raise funds, such as its May 2 virtual bunch with New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham. Another virtual brunch also is scheduled for June with New York Times bestselling author Suzanna Kearsley.

Barnes & Noble at University Town Center, 200 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota, is hosting a book fair with Friends of the East Manatee Library, April 9-13 to raise money as well. Customers can show a voucher, provided by Friends of the East Manatee Library through its website, at the Barnes & Noble counter to send a portion of the proceeds to Friends of the East Manatee Library.

Friends of the East Manatee Library hopes to raise at least $60,000 to fund programs such as summer reading for children, to buy equipment such as 3D printers, and to purchase furniture.

“The Friends are here to serve our library branches, whatever the needs are with the library,” said Sue Ann Miller. president of the Friends of East Manatee Library.

Manatee County Library Services Manager Elizabeth Partridge said a new timeline for the library is pending approval with the Manatee County Commission. If approved, the goal will be to break ground in January and open the library in fall 2023. It is expected to cost about $14 million.

Miller said the nonprofit has raised $23,310 since it became a 501(c)(3) in 2019. About 48% of that total has come from fundraisers, as opposed to donations.

Visit to register for a Friends of the East Manatee Library fundraising event.

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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