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East Bradenton nonprofits benefit from Giving Challenge

Tiffany Mautino, the Lakewood Ranch Library supervising manager, Hayley Rigatti, a library staff member, and Faith Kibler, a Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library volunteer, bring a button maker and 3D printed chicks for people to paint while supporting the nonprofit and Slim Chickens.
Tiffany Mautino, the Lakewood Ranch Library supervising manager, Hayley Rigatti, a library staff member, and Faith Kibler, a Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library volunteer, bring a button maker and 3D printed chicks for people to paint while supporting the nonprofit and Slim Chickens.
File photo
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Lakewood Ranch Library staff members Tiffany Mautino and Hayley Rigatti walked into Slim Chickens April 9 with a button maker and 100 3D printed chicks in hand. 

Mautino and Rigatti, along with volunteers from the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library, encouraged people to paint the chicks and make their own buttons after purchasing food to support the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch during the Giving Challenge. 

“The buttons were geared for children, but I have to say, everybody was making buttons,” said Sue Ann Miller, the president of the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library. “The adults were making buttons. The staff at Slim Chickens were making buttons. It was so much fun.”

Miller said the Giving Challenge was a win-win as the nonprofit partnered with Slim Chickens to receive 15% of sales while the restaurant made $500 more than a typical Tuesday due to people coming in to support Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library. 

The Giving Challenge was an opportunity for nonprofits, like the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library, to not only raise money but also make connections with businesses and new donors. 

Funds raised and matched through the Giving Challenge will allow several East County nonprofits to provide continued services, purchase new materials and resources and expand programs.

Miller said the Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library had a goal of raising $7,000 through donations. The nonprofit surpassed that goal by raising $8,060, which contributed to its total of $13,470 raised. Miller said there are opportunities to raise more money through different Giving Challenge prizes such as Best Nonprofit Partnership and Best Giving Challenge Photo. 

“(The funds raised is) a strong message that our community continues to send that libraries are important,” she said. 

The funds will go toward purchasing materials for the children’s area at the Lakewood Ranch Library, including an Imagination Playground big blue block set, Legos and Lego Duplo blocks. 

At Farmhouse Animal and Nature Sanctuary, owner Lisa Burns said the $21,100 raised will go toward repairing the fence that was destroyed during Hurricane Ian in 2022 as well as covering unexpected expenses that arise.. For example, the sanctuary took in a veiled chameleon that was underweight and calcium deficient as well as a goat whose hooves were in such bad shape it could barely walk. 

The sanctuary currently cares for 174 animals across 25 different species.

The nonprofit gathered with the Humane Society of Sarasota and five other nonprofits for a pop-up event during the Giving Challenge. Burns brought a hedgehog, two ferrets, rabbits and a bearded dragon so people could see some of the animals at the sanctuary.

“It’s amazing to see so many people come together to help our little sanctuary,” Burns said. 

Burns said the pop-up event also gave people an opportunity to see the animals that are available for adoption through the sanctuary.

Dani Ziegler, the shelter director for the Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, and Executive Committee Member Cheryl Johnson are grateful for the Giving Challenge. Funds raised will allow the nonprofit to take on animals with more severe issues.
File photo

Dani Ziegler, the shelter director at the Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, said the $32,618 raised will help the nonprofit to be able to say “yes” to every animal, even if it needs additional support and services. The Humane Society recently took in a chihuahua that needed hip surgery.

With the Humane Society in the middle of kitten season, Ziegler and board member Cindy Jackson, said the funds are crucial. 

Ziegler said the Humane Society spent $400 April 10 solely on cat food. 

“It’s truly never ending, and that’s what we signed up for ... but we can’t do it without the help of the public,” Jackson said. 

Throughout April 9, the students and staff at Beyond the Spectrum were celebrating. They watched and celebrated as donor after donor registered on the Giving Challenge website. The nonprofit, which works with children and young adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, posted “thank you” videos and pictures on social media to express gratitude. 

“We were honestly amazed at how quickly it all came together,” said Loryn Carpenter, the nonprofit’s communications specialist, of the $66,200 raised. “It was like a party that day on our campus.”

Beyond the Spectrum's Kawida Turner and Bernie the Bee thank supporters for donating during the Giving Challenge.
Courtesy image

Carpenter said the money will go toward purchasing new technology, updating curriculum and offsetting therapy costs for students. She said the funds will allow the nonprofit’s students to have more opportunities to strengthen their abilities and empower them. Beyond the Spectrum serves about 109 families.

“We’re excited to provide them with even more resources to help them reach their most meaningful potential with us,” she said. “While we work with students here on campus, we also like to work with the families on things they can do at home and other resources they can use. We’re thankful to be able to serve the whole family with these funds.”

For Harbor58, a nonprofit that works with individuals aging out of foster care, the Giving Challenge not only was about raising money but also building connections. 

Missy Parmenter, the president of Harbor58, said it was the first year the nonprofit participated in the Giving Challenge, and it focused on word-of-mouth to gain donors. She said she loved that the Giving Challenge forces nonprofits to widen its base and make more connections. 

“As a resident here, it makes me proud that we care so much about giving that we make it front and center and it’s something we all do together,” Parmenter said. “It’s the idea that many hands make light work. When we all do our part and give what we can, it can go such a long way.”

With the $10,550 raised through the Giving Challenge, Harbor58 is working to launch new initiatives this year, including renting a home for individuals to live in while the nonprofit waits for its new small housing community to be built behind Oasis Church. 

Parmenter said the funds also will allow the nonprofit to expand its mentorship and financial literacy programs. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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