Your friends and neighbors helped out a lot during this holiday season.
| 12:00 p.m. December 23, 2020
The holidays are a time of good tidings and giving, and Longboat Key has no shortage of generosity even in the midst of a pandemic.
Here’s a round-up of some of town's do-gooders this holiday season:
Republican Club of Longboat Key: Every year, the Republicans Club of Longboat Key asks residents to donate an unwrapped toy at its holiday party to pass onto Toys for Tots. This year, club leadership offered a steep discount to those generous enough to bring a toy — half off dinner at that night’s party. By the end of the night, toys spilled out from under the tree in Harbourside Ballroom, and outgoing president Joe McElmeel said they brought in double the donations from last year.
Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce: Every year at the holiday season, the Chamber partners with Manatee Children’s Services to buy toys for the children they serve as part of their “Holiday Project.” However, out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, Manatee Children’s Services has requested gift cards instead of asking folks to go out and shop for toys. The Chamber’s goal is 60 $50 gift cards.
With money raised at networking events, the Chamber purchased 30 gift cards. They received another $500 from Jaime DiDomenico at Cool Today — good for another 10 cards — and another gift card donation from Debbie Shaffer at Cool Today, bringing them to 41 gift cards by Dec. 10.
The town of Longboat Key: The town of Longboat Key sets up two drop-off spots for Toys for Tots every year and draws a good haul of new and unwrapped toys to donate, one at Town Hall and one at the police station. On Dec. 10, Sam Lastinger brought in a bounty of toys that overflowed the drop box, many of which were given by Aquarius residents.
Bell-ringing volunteers: What's a Salvation Army bell-ringing station without the bells?
Volunteers at the Shoppes of Bay Isles lamented the wonky sound of their bells until Gulfshore resident Jack Joyce generously purchased and donated to the cause two new bells.
Longboat Harbour Condominiums: Residents have donated more than $2,500 to Toys for Tots, according to condo President Bill Coughlin.
“In spite of the problems caused by COVID-19, the holiday spirit and traditions at Longboat Harbour is still alive and well!” he said.
Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key: Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key President Lynn Larson and Lazy Lobster owner Michael Garey teamed up to set up an Angel Tree within the restaurant, while director of tennis Briana Harris Francois at the Longboat Key Club set one up at the Tennis Gardens. Interested givers were invited to pick an angel to select a child to buy a gift for, or grab an envelope off the tree to make a donation to the Children’s Guardian Fund. Garey was also offering discounts for donors, who could receive a coupon for a cup of lobster bisque, glass of wine or house cocktail for their good deed.
Longboat Key Turtle Watch: The Longboat Key Turtle Watch made several donations totaling over $13,000 to area wildlife organizations for the holiday season, as they have in years past. They donated $500 each to Wildlife, Inc., Save Our Seabirds and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium's education fund. The group raised money throughout the year with its T-shirt sales as well as Name the Nest and other donations from community members. Their biggest donation was $3,000 to Mote's virtual programs, and the group also made distinctions for funds to Mote's Sea Turtle Rescue and Conservation Program, hatchling hospital and stranding investigations.
Rotary Club of Longboat Key: The club started collecting toys at the second annual Light Up Longboat event on Nov. 28 and will donate them to the children of migrant farm workers in the area. Unwrapped toys were dropped off at the tree lighting event, but the Rotary Club teamed up with Design2000 in Whitney Plaza to keep collecting gifts. More toys were dropped off during December. By the end of the program, when town public works project manager James Linkogle picked the goods up on Dec. 15, over 160 presents had come in — far more than Rotary has ever brought in before. In addition to the gifts, the Rotary Club also donated bilingual books to the kids.