Longboat Key residents earned their spots this year.
From decorations to parties, there’s no shortage of Christmas cheer visible on the surface of Longboat Key. However, every year, the island gives special attention to the meaningful spirit of the season with plenty of donations. Several organizations put their most generous foot forward during December and make the Nice List with ease.
Of course, with the plethora of manifestations of the giving spirit on Longboat Key, we’re sure there are a few names we missed. Unlike Santa, even though we checked our list twice, we can’t keep an eye on the Key at all times.
St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church
St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church got into the Christmas spirit early with their Nov. 13 Christmas Bazaar. From the daylong event where attendees shopped homemade and donated gifts and decorations, the Women’s Guild raised $11,000. Every year, the proceeds from this event and the spring Royal Rummage thrift sale go to local charities the church supports. The church also had two other giving opportunities for Christmas. There was an Angel Tree in the church lobby and participants took a tag and brought back a wrapped toy for the child on the tag. For their Christmas concert on Dec. 10, attendees paid their way into the event with an unwrapped toy to be donated to children in need within the diocese.
Longboat Key Turtle Watch
The Longboat Key Turtle Watch donated $12,000 to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Wildlife Inc. and Save Our Seabirds. LBKTW members put on their Christmas best and presented the directors of departments they were supporting with checks on Dec. 3. Much of the funding for Mote went towards the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program in the name of longtime LBKTW member Freda Perdotta for headlamps, Adopt a Nest signs, flipper tags and turtle-safe ATV lighting. Wildlife Inc. and Save Our Seabirds got $1,000 each for rehabilitation.
J. McLaughlin and Christ Church of Longboat Key
J. McLaughlin has hosted a couple Sip and Shop fundraising events for local children’s groups, including one that benefitted Children First on Nov. 20. Volunteers staffed a table at the store and brought in gifts for children under 5 and store manager Melanie Dale kept accepting presents throughout the week. After that, Dale teamed up with Christ Church of Longboat Key for the following week after Thanksgiving to bring in non perishable food donations for Our Daily Bread, a food pantry in Bradenton whose need skyrocketed during the pandemic.
Rotary Club of Longboat Key presents
Every year, the Rotary Club of Longboat Key brings in as many presents as possible for the children of migrant farm workers in Arcadia. Every year, the pile grows. The club set up a table at the third annual Light Up Longboat on Nov. 27 and took in unwrapped presents throughout the evening. Between then and the club’s Dec. 7 holiday party, everything was wrapped. Club members loaded more than 200 presents into several “sleighs” (also known as member’s cars).
St. Armands Key Lutheran Church Angel Tree
At St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, their Angel Tree got cleared out. The church’s Community Service Ministry put up a tree with names and desired gifts for people served by the Lutheran Services Florida Guardianship Program. The program serves everyone from children to senior citizens and the Christmas gifts were to be delivered after Dec. 3. All the tags on the tree got taken, and the car designated to serve as Santa’s sleigh was full to bursting.
Toys for Tots
Tons of tots will get toys thanks to altruistic townspeople. At Symphony Massage at Harbour Square, the team put out a bin for the first time; at town hall, a bin was put out for the 23rd year. Every year, the town has filled their bin to the top with toys for kids in the area, and this year, they were close to brimming with just three days left in their Santa schedule. In addition, the golfers of the Women’s Golf Association and Key Niners brought gifts to their Dec. 7 Frosty Frolic event and filled a table running along one edge of the Harbourside Ballroom.
Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce
The Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce raises money for Manatee Children’s Services’ holiday project through their Business After Hours and Networking at Noon events every year via raffles. At the end of the year, they purchase as many $50 gift cards as possible; this year, they got enough for 32 cards. Aside from the raffle funds, members Heather Gaus, Colleen Chamberlain, Ramin and DeeDee Mesghali, Mary Lou Johnson, Peg Pluto, Richard Perlman, Jan Jordan, Dee Dee Fusco, Jeffrey Hapoienu, Yvonne Schloss, Marko Zikovic, Sandy LaRose and E.J. Ledesma donated cards. Manatee Children’s Services had an additional 18 children who had not been adopted for the holiday project, so President Gail Loefgren put out the call for more donations. As of Dec. 8, they had brought in enough for nine more out of 18 and were keeping donations open until Dec. 13.
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