Income was up but St. Armands Circle kettle grabs top spot.
The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key started 2021 on a high note at its Jan. 7 meeting — a 22% higher note than in the previous year, to be exact
The club gathered for their first meeting of the year and got the lowdown on their Salvation Army bell ringing campaign for the holiday season. Sarasota County Salvation Army development director Glenda Leonard addressed the club on the highs and lows of the season, noting that even though nationwide revenues were down, the Longboat Key bell ringing kettles brought in 22% more than last year's $24,094 total.
“I felt all along that those who could would (donate) and we saw that,” Leonard said.
However, Leonard joked, there was some bad news for Longboat Key. The island group was not number one in revenue in Sarasota County this year — that title goes to St. Armands Circle. A family foundation that normally donates a $15,000 check donated a $20,000 check this year, followed by a $10,000 check the next week and a $5,000 the week after that.
Even though it didn’t boost the Bay Isles bell ringers to number one, the Longboat location still saw massive participation from both donors and volunteers. Organizer Chris Sachs, who took the program over from longtime organizer Ed Krepela this year, worried at first about how many members would participate and about how Publix customers would react. But in the end, the club returned 95% of its volunteers and brought in ringers from Christ Church of Longboat Key and the island’s Rotary Club.
“It seemed that there was just a sense of pent-up participation in general,” Sachs said. “Maybe it was also a sense of normalcy, maybe that bell, or the classic Christmas bucket from the Salvation Army was reassuring to a lot of people.”
The $20 for $20 program, sponsored by four secret donors who match every $20 donated in Sarasota County with another $20, performed strongly in 2020 as well, though it was down 4% from 2019. Sachs saw a few donors make a last-minute switch to the bigger bill when they spotted the sign.
“You'd see people that were leading with maybe $1, then look down and see the sign $20 for $20 and then say, ‘Oh, wait a second, this is for real?’” Sachs said.
Despite the overarching burden of “It’s 2020,” the club ended the season with a rosy outcome for their annual fundraising. As of now, Sachs will return to coordinate the efforts again in 2021.
“I expect that I will be doing it next year,” Sachs said. “And I'm looking forward to doing it without the need or requirement to wear masks.”