Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the Herald-Tribune website and is written by Matthew Sauer, executive editor and general manager of the Herald-Tribune.
Are you enjoying those Thanksgiving leftovers? To me, they always taste better than they did at the holiday dinner table.
Hopefully, you’re enjoying the memories you created there, too.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to slow things down a little, to remember what’s really important in life and to enjoy our families.
If you haven’t already, please also take the time to think about your extended family. By that, I mean — even in these sometimes divisive times — our community brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.
There are people here in Southwest Florida who didn’t get the chance to slow down and savor Thanksgiving and some family love. They were too busy working two or three jobs to make ends meet and to support that family.
They are one car repair or one emergency room visit from putting at risk their ability to stay in their homes. They are sometimes faced with the unsavory prospect of paying that bill or paying their rent.
Fortunately, this is one of the most giving places in the United States. Southwest Florida, my home of four decades, demonstrates that empathy time and time again.
For 20 years, our community has shown it through Season of Sharing, a partnership between the Herald-Tribune and other media and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County whose primary aim is to prevent homelessness.
More than $22 million has come to the program, administered by local organizations in Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, and Charlotte counties with no overhead, meaning every dollar goes to someone in need.
What I love about Season of Sharing is that many of the thousands of people who have been helped by the program return, not for more help, but to — as I am fond of saying — “pay it forward” to someone else in need. Sometimes it’s just a few dollars, but the spirit of that giving is absolutely priceless.
So think about their giving as you enjoy the holiday season and match them. Think about the 40 percent of local residents who are just one paycheck away from housing instability and the 52 percent of kids who qualify locally for free and assisted lunches.
Season of Sharing is — in a word — one of the most elegant of ways to help people, and it goes on all year long, not just during the holidays — always there for when it is needed to stave off one of life’s emergencies for someone who can’t withstand it.
Not only are you helping someone protect the roof over their heads, but you also might be that spark that inspires them to help the next person in need.
How to help
The Season of Sharing fund was created in 2000 as a partnership between the Herald-Tribune and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The goal is to get emergency funds to individuals and families on the brink of housing instability in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. Every dollar donated goes to people in need. There are no administrative fees and no red tape. Funds may be used for rental assistance, utility bills, child care and other expenses needed to help families get back on their feet.
Donations to the Season of Sharing fund may be made online at cfsarasota.org, or by sending a check (payable to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County) to Attn. Season of Sharing, 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237. Contact the foundation at 941-556-2399 for more information or to request a credit card form. All donations are tax-deductible. To read stories about families helped by Season of Sharing, go to heraldtribune.com/seasonofsharing.