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$94,000 donation leaves a lasting mark at Christ Church

The gift to Christ Church on Longboat Key by a founding member goes a long way to help the church's mission group.

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An act of kindness in the will of a former town resident led to a $94,000 surprise for Christ Church of Longboat Key's mission group. 

The group’s chair, Jerry Fox, said no one saw the gift coming, and all he could say about their deceased benefactor was that the man lived on Longboat Key but moved to the mainland in later years and that he was a founding member of the church more than 15 years ago. 

The church’s mission supports local and worldwide organizations. This year’s annual budget is $142,000.  

“We didn’t want to simply parcel it out to the 12 or 14 we normally fund. We thought we should do something different with it,” Fox said.

The church focused on organizations that serve the homeless and requested proposals. One year later, the impact of one donation can be seen throughout the local community and as far away as the Bahamas.

Hope Seeds is the only international organization to receive a grant. They were awarded $13,000 to expand their program beyond Africa and Haiti and into the Bahamas. The organization says hunger is “the world’s most solvable crisis.” They provide seeds and agricultural education to impoverished communities. 

The local agencies to receive grants were Our Daily Bread, Turning Points and Harvest House.

Our Daily Bread in Bradenton received $25,000 to retrofit a house for food storage. The house needed a new roof and had to be tented for insects. They also paved around the exterior to create additional parking and to grade the blacktop up to the door. Now, pallets of food can easily be rolled in and out. 

Donations prior to this one paid for the house adjacent to their food pantry and kitchen, but this donation paid for the needed repairs at a time when Goodwill had over 200,000 pounds of extra food. ODB was able to accept it without having to line the halls of their main building with cans of green beans and jars of peanut butter. 

“Of course we could have started loading it in here, but it sure made it awfully convenient to buy that building and for their help in doing the roof, blacktop and the tenting,” President Mark McLaughlin said. 

ODB serves hot meals 364 days a year to about 200 people per day. The pantry typically services 220 people a week. Outside of eight part-time employees, the entire administration and staff are volunteers. 

ODB shares a parking lot with Turning Points. Each organization is its own entity but their proximity creates a convenient compound of resources. Christ Church gave TP $20,000 to pay one year’s salary for a clinic outreach coordinator. The one-year marketing blitz resulted in 809 new patients.

“We have all these services, and we want people to know if you may have lost your job during COVID,” Director of Dawson Margi Dawson said. “We know how much health care expenses are. If you don’t have any healthcare, Turning Points is an option.”

In addition to the medical and dental clinics, there is also a pharmacy on site. Patients must be uninsured and between the ages of 18 and 64 with an income up to 200% of the poverty level guidelines, which equates to about $12 an hour, Dawson said. “So that covers a lot of working people.”

Harvest House focused on the future workforce and spent their $35,000 grant on their youth center. “We need to raise about $80,000-$85,000 a year,” said CEO Erin Minor. The anonymous donation covered about five months of operating expenses, including the salaries of one case manager and one outreach youth liaison. 

There is no cost to youths between ages 16 and 24. Some are fresh out of foster care and have no place to go. Others have dealt with instability at home due to substance abuse and violence. It’s a drop-in center where they can eat, shower, do laundry, and charge electronics. They’re provided help applying for jobs and filling out college applications. 

“Our goal is to ultimately get them housed and employed,” Minor said. 

The anonymous donor left his donation in the right hands. Charitable bequests reduce estate taxes, but more importantly, they make a lasting difference.  



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