Year-round, Longboat Key residents are as caring as they come. The holidays only highlight their generosity. Here’s a list of all the good deeds happening around the island this holiday season.
The Women’s Golf Association’s Key Niners
The Key Niners held their annual Frosty Frolic on Dec. 6 at the Longboat Key Club’s Harbourside ballroom.
“We play a six or four person scramble, and then every person that attends brings a gift for Toys for Tots,” chairman Mary Taylor said.
The tournament is an annual event. Over 160 women played golf and donated toys. In addition to the giant pile of unwrapped toys, each snowman centerpiece held a $20 gift card also being donated to Toys for Tots.
Taylor was the winner of the fleet lighting at the Sarasota Yacht Club too.
“There were over 400 people there and every boat in the marina had to be decorated,” she said. “Ours had over 200 stockings on it, 50 of them were stuffed.”
Taylor dropped the stuffed stocking off at the Sarasota Boys and Girls Club.
Christ Church of Longboat Key
Members of Christ Church collected food and toys for Our Daily Bread of Bradenton. Four carloads of groceries and toys were delivered after Thanksgiving. ODB's website reads, “The people we are feeding are your neighbors. The majority are not homeless. They are struggling to raise children.”
Each year, members also donate gifts to Beth-El Farmworker Ministry and Harvest House. But after a $50,000 donation was made to Selah Freedom, a local nonprofit working to stop sex trafficking and support survivors, they expanded their list.
“I asked the congregation if maybe we could afford to add 25 more people, girls who are survivors and living in facilities at Selah, and what I didn’t tell them was that there are 40 or more girls that are getting all the services—counseling, trauma therapy and everything else but don’t live in the Selah facility,” mission chair Jerry Fox said. “We got so much money that came in for it that we adopted all 40-some of those girls too.”
Rotary Club of Longboat Key
The Rotary Club collected toys for Big Brothers Big Sisters to benefit children who were affected by Hurricane Ian at Light up Longboat. Members also donated double what they collected bringing the total to 125 toys. The gifts were delivered to an emergency Rotary store that was set up in North Port, where families can shop for free.
Social Action Committee at Temple Beth Israel
The temple’s new social action committee collected toys and gift cards for Second Chance Last Opportunity in Sarasota. They collected during the first two weeks of December and held a drive-thru donation collection on Dec. 12.
SCLO offers second chances through education and self-empowerment. Programs include a six-week life skills class and a women’s empowerment group, plus after-school and summer programs for youths.
Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key
Ring-a-ling-ling. Kiwanis members set up shop outside of Publix to ring the donation bell for the Salvation Army. Member Chris Sachs was one busy emailing elf this month. He was in charge of finding and scheduling volunteers to cover eight hours a day for 16 days.
Volunteer Mike Gardiner said if you want an organizer, call Sachs. He managed to wrangle about 30 members and non-members to keep that bell ringing for 128 hours. His enthusiasm and strong encouragement to fill spots never wavered.
“I know it’s tough being Thanksgiving weekend and all, but maybe friends, family or guests from out of town might want to work off their turkey dinner and leftovers with a vigorous ringing session,” one email read.
Sachs didn't want to take too much credit. He said the endeavor wouldn't be possible without the "Holy Trinity" of Kiwanis, Rotary and Christ Church.
St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church
St. Mary’s collected toys for Catholic Charities through a Christmas concert. They hold the concert each year, but it’s not free. Each concert ticket costs one unwrapped toy. Over 100 were collected and delivered to the Sarasota location.
All Angels by the Sea Episcopal Church
When opening the door that says "Art Gallery" at All Angels, the first thing to grab attention right now is not the art. It's the pile of toys in the foyer.
"We've done a toy drive for Mothers Helping Mothers here in Sarasota," Rev. David Marshall said. "We were hoping to fill the box, and obviously, we need a bigger box."
Longboat Harbour Condominium
Residents of Longboat Harbour decorated their docks in the spirit of generosity and friendly competition.
“I’m an old coach, so everything’s winning and losing with me, so I have to beat last year,” condo commodore Bill Coughlin said. “We got to get more lights than last year, we got to raise more money than last year, and we did.”
Coach got a big win last year when residents doubled their prior record, raising $5,280 for Toys for Tots, and they did it again this year by lighting all 52 docks and raising $6,480 plus toys.
“We crushed our Toys for Tots goal,” Coughlin said.
Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.