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"We teach the kids that we've been blessed, so we try to give back," says Margaret Callihan, pictured with her husband, Matt, son Phil, and their two dogs, Lou and Nala.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 7 years ago

Season of Sharing helps community

by: Loren Mayo and Maria Amodio

Many of them have lost their jobs. Some have been evicted from their homes because they couldn’t afford rent. Others are struggling to keep their child in daycare while working to put food on the table.

Season of Sharing is a 10-year, community-wide fundraising partnership created by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Herald-Tribune Media Group that provides emergency, last-resort funding to families in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Since its inception in 2000, nearly $4 million has been raised. This year’s Season of Sharing continues through the next two months.

The funding is used to help prevent homelessness by offering rental assistance, mortgage payments, utility payments, transportation assistance to and from work and critical medical and dental assistance.

Last year, the Community Foundation Board of Directors kicked-off Season of Sharing with a $200,000 grant. Public donations from $5 to $500,000 were augmented by gifts from businesses, organizations, private foundations and Community Foundation donor advisors.

Although several media organizations formed a partnership last year to generate buzz for the event, this year, the partnership has expanded, giving Season of Sharing its greatest exposure to date. The Observer Group, which has partnered with the Herald-Tribune Media Group, The Bradenton Herald, Sun Newspapers, SNN6, Comcast, ABC7, Bright House Networks and Clear Channel, donated $5,125 from its Black Tie Bash event in October and, during the next several weeks, will be featuring stories about donors who have helped families in need through Season of Sharing.

The Patterson Foundation provided a $250,000 outright grant and a $250,000 matching challenge grant to Season of Sharing, which brought total Season of Sharing donations to $1.5 million in 2010. Those funds are distributed throughout the year to 13 agencies with direct case management services that are aided by Season of Sharing. Any 501(c)3 organization that meets the criteria may request Season of Sharing Funds for their clients through these 13 agencies.

Donations to the Season of Sharing fund may be made by check or credit card, payable to the Community Foundation of Sarasota or online at For information, call 955-3000.

By The Numbers
13 — agencies receiving SOS funding
$3,933,817 — funding SOS has received from 2001 to October 2010
$235,350 — funding each agency received from SOS in December 2009 and January 2010
1,111 — number of families aided by SOS in 2009

Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected]

Donor Spotlight: Matt and Margaret Callihan

Matt and Margaret Callihan have always been big believers in the old adage “you get what you give,” so it’s no surprise that many of their son, Phil’s, fondest memories are of volunteering with his family. From buying Christmas gifts for needy children, to going on mission trips, to building homes in rural Appalachia, volunteering has always been a part of their family life.

“Every week, every day, we saw them giving back,” says Phil of his childhood growing up in Tennessee with his sister, Jean, and younger brother, Stephen.

When the Callihans moved in 2005 from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Longboat Key for Margaret’s job as chairwoman, president and CEO of SunTrust Bank, Southwest Florida, they brought their passion for volunteerism with them.

Matt, a former systems and engineer administrator at IBM, accepted a position as an Algebra teacher at Sarasota Military Academy, where he volunteers his time tutoring students after school four days a week.
Margaret joined the Community Foundation of Sarasota County Board of Directors, through which she and Matt became involved with Season of Sharing.

“We all need help at different times, and that’s what Season of Sharing is about,” says Margaret.

The selfless nature of the program is another reason why the Callihans support Season of Sharing.

“The different banks aren’t worried about outdoing each other; the foundations aren’t worried about who gets the credit,” says Matt. “It’s all about getting the job done to help others, and what’s better than that at Christmas time?”

— Maria Amodio


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