The life-altering impact an unforeseen disaster has on our lives is more pronounced now than perhaps at any time in recent memory. Much like a catastrophic hurricane, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the fortunes of people from different walks of life in ways few could have imagined, bringing both health and financial challenges that threaten our long-term safety.
For many, this means facing a reality that endangers their ability to provide basic needs for themselves or their families for the first time in their lives. Their once steady jobs — and in some cases, the businesses in which they work — are indefinitely on hold or altogether gone. For those most susceptible to the virus, the prospect of continuing to work through the pandemic has proven too risky for themselves or their loved ones. Some are even coping with a wide range of debilitating ailments stemming from COVID-19, many of which can significantly hinder their capability to provide. This economic trauma can jeopardize a person's ability to put food on the table or keep a roof over their head.
Time and again, our caring community has come to the aid of those facing undue hardship, such as the challenges created by COVID-19. For more than two decades, the Season of Sharing campaign has stood ready to harness this collective generosity and optimize its impact. Every year since its creation in 2000, Season of Sharing has afforded the givers in our community an opportunity to help their neighbors in need cover rental assistance, utility bills, child care, transportation, or other crucial expenses. These basic payments can make all the difference to someone following a crisis like COVID-19, safeguarding their stability in an uncertain time.
With over two decades of proven impact that has cemented the community's trust in its time-tested model, Season of Sharing can effectively and efficiently remedy the unforeseen threats people throughout Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties find themselves facing daily. When the pandemic was only beginning, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Herald-Tribune Media Group wasted no time reactivating the Season of Sharing network to provide emergency assistance to local families and individuals in crisis.
Like many in our region, The Patterson Foundation understands the impact disasters such as the pandemic pose to us all. This awareness has guided our approach to strengthening people, organizations, and communities navigating their aftermath in ways that help them cope with their initial struggles, adapt to their new normal, and innovate toward a better reality. This knowledge, coupled with our honest belief in every giver's need to give at this critical time in our world, fueled The Patterson Foundation's series of matching challenges and incentives during both the March 2020 reactivation of Season of Sharing and the recently concluded holiday campaign.
The collective response across both efforts has affirmed that belief and redefined it with the record-breaking $3.7 million raised through nearly 3,800 gifts from November through January — including $600,000 in matching dollars from The Patterson Foundation, its largest contribution to date. Season of Sharing effectively generated an astonishing $6.5 million in community funds in one year for those coping with the pandemic's myriad effects.
The more than 3,200 donors in our region who contributed to the holiday campaign can take pride in knowing the difference their unwavering generosity will make in the lives and livelihoods of others. Through Season of Sharing's flexible model, these funds are applied strategically to mitigate both today's destabilizing challenges and those that materialize in the months ahead as we continue to adapt to the curveballs COVID-19 continues to throw our way.
This sustained impact would not be possible without the fiscal agents and community agencies' efforts serving as stewards of the community's funding. Their tireless donations of time, resources, and expertise — all with no expectation of compensation for overhead expenses — ensure that all Season of Sharing funds are put toward helping people in crisis regain their stability. For the key role these organizations play in Season of Sharing's impact, The Patterson Foundation recently awarded them with a one-time honorarium totaling more than $450,000 to recognize their continued work to help our generous givers realize their aspirations for their neighbors.
The reality facing many in our region today is not something we anticipated — yet, through Season of Sharing, everyone has the opportunity to do something about it. Witnessing our community's response to that opportunity and the good it will do for so many in the days, weeks, and months ahead is beyond inspiring — it is a truly fantabulous example of what makes our region and the people, organizations, and communities within it stellar.