The club brought in more than $25,000 for their Salvation Army efforts.
What do you get with 1,804 pennies, 556 dimes, 209 quarters and 356 nickels? About $143.69 and a shoebox that weighs about 70 pounds, said Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key bell ringing organizer Chris Sachs. He accepted the hefty donation from a woman on Dec. 23, just before Salvation Army bell ringing ended for the year.
“It was a big shoebox, it must’ve been hiking boots or something,” Sachs said.
Sachs rounded the total up to $160 with just over $17 of his own money and swapped the coins out with $20 bills so they would be matched by the area’s anonymous donors. But first, all that jingling change needed to be counted up. Suntrust Bank let Sachs borrow a coin counter and he enlisted his mother- and brother-in-law, who had just arrived for Christmas.
“They spent like an hour at our kitchen counter just stacking these little things … it was actually a great Christmas story to us,” Sachs said.
The club’s Jan. 20 meeting served as the formal wrap-up for the bell ringing volunteer efforts in 2021. There were other heartwarming, “most joyous time of the year” stories throughout the bell ringing season, including a record amount of folks in festive dress ringing the bell and a friendly “Go Blue” to a Michigan fan who caused the passerby to take a second look and drop an extra $20 in the kettle. Sachs said he immensely enjoyed his second year as the chair of the club’s bell-ringing efforts, a position he took over from longtime member Ed Krepela.
“This is what makes it fun,” Sachs said. “I actually look forward to this now.”
The Kiwanians were joined by volunteers from Christ Church of Longboat Key and the Rotary Club of Longboat Key. Overall, the distribution of volunteers was about equal from each organization, Sachs said, and the Kiwanians are grateful to their partners-in-bells.
But try as they might, the Bay Isles bell ringers couldn’t overtake the St. Armands Circle bell ringers, said speaker and Salvation Army Sarasota director of development Glenda Leonard. The same family foundation that donated $35,000 to the kettles to the south last year followed up with a total of $40,000 this year between separate checks for $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000 from separate family members. In total, that group, led by St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, brought in $57,979.
“That is the largest kettle we’ve ever had, as far as in my history with the organization,” Leonard said. “But you take that out and you’re (Longboat Key) still right there.”
In total, Longboat Key bell ringers brought in $25,390, which is an increase of about a thousand dollars from 2019. Because of the unusual nature of 2020, Leonard said comparisons are being drawn between 2019 and 2021 this year.
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