Season of Sharing (SOS) compels us to take a moment, step back, and remember that we as community members and organizations have a responsibility to contribute when there is a disaster.
Disasters come in many guises including the financial stress of a single grandmother who is on disability and struggling to pay rent, while trying to provide for both herself and her granddaughter’s needs. Disaster is the incessant nagging in the back of a father’s mind that his rent is due at the end of the week, but he needs to use those funds for a vehicle repair in order to safely commute to work and pick up his children from childcare each day.
There are thousands of local families trapped in their own disasters on the verge of homelessness. Since 2009, The Patterson Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Herald-Tribune Media Group has inspired community generosity through the Season of Sharing.
“We believe and are affirmed that everyone does care and will do something to help. Sharing gifts provide an opportunity for everyone to be a philanthropist and make a difference.” said Debra Jacobs.
The Season of Sharing campaign, now in its 18th year, is an incredible case of generosity and since inception, has raised money with exponential impact. Every organization involved donates their time and resources without receiving compensation to cover their overhead expenses. Over $1 million of in-kind support including print ads, public service announcements (radio and TV), and staff support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, local media partners and agencies was donated last year alone. Literally 100% of every donation made will provide assistance to a family in need. Through the data provided by Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), 85% of families who have received emergency funding from SOS have not needed to return for additional support. Preventing homelessness not only improves the lives of those in need, but it is an effective use of community resources in the long run: $1,000 in assistance can keep a family from losing their home, whereas it costs $8,000 to secure housing for a homeless family.
The spirit of Season of Sharing is owned by the community and the level of caring has been heartfelt. Each year, both individuals and organizations have become more creative with how they own it. Businesses have made their annual customer appreciation gifts in honor of each of their clients – a good news holiday giving message. Last year, an individual donated $4 as a way to pay it forward because SOS previously helped her stay in her home. It is because of the thousands of people who support Season of Sharing, that thousands more are able to rebound and break free of their own personal disaster.