By Sharon Hillstrom
Today, many families will gather to celebrate religious and cultural traditions handed down through generations. At the center of these traditions is a spirit of giving.
That spirit is not just a seasonal focus for businesses and employees in Manatee County. They give time and treasure year-round to help scores of non-profits fulfill their missions locally and beyond.
We asked supporters of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. to share some ways they help the community, beyond their positive impact on the local economy. Here’s a sampling to demonstrate how corporate neighbors are making a difference all around us.
Community involvement by employees at Safran Electrical and Power supports the United Way, Manatee Children’s Services, and Kinnan Elementary, among many others. The company’s giving focuses on youth, helping them prepare for future success through education.
Sokos Social assists local nonprofits with achieving their fundraising and brand awareness goals by offering discounted rates on consulting services related to marketing and operational systems that save time and money. In 2017, Sokos supported the Women’s Resource Center, Feeding Empty Little Tummies Inc., Drug Free Manatee and the Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament.
SUNZ Insurance and its employees participate in ongoing efforts to contribute to the Manatee community and beyond. In 2017, the company contributed to food banks and hurricane relief efforts, with SUNZ Insurance matching all employee donations.
The Pittsburgh Pirates through Pirates Charities presented six Manatee County schools with financial donations to enhance the learning experience for students at those schools. The donations were made through the Adopt-A-School program, an initiative that Pirates Charities instituted in Manatee County in 2014. The Pirates’ minor league affiliate, the Bradenton Marauders, hosted packing parties for players, staff, and community members to donate and ship goods to local soldiers serving overseas through Manatee Operation Troop Support.
The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota softball team helped unload 78,000 pounds of food collected during the Food Bank of Manatee’s Stuff the Bus event. The Food Bank feeds approximately 18,000 children in Manatee County who depend on the donations.
Centauri Insurance allows employees up to 16 paid hours per year to support their favorite non-profit causes and has supported group volunteer activities including the Blessing Bags project and the Mayors’ Feed the Hungry program. Centauri also benefited the Sarasota County Humane Society through a silent auction.
L.A. Events Inc. works with four local non-profits each year, helping them surpass their goals by providing new and innovative ways to raise funds to achieve their missions.
Bank of America supports the Women’s Resource Center with time and treasure. Employees donated gently worn clothing, shoes & accessories for the center’s clients and volunteered at the Unique Boutique Sip & Shop to help shoppers find just the right confidence-boosting outfit. The bank also contributed a $10,000 grant for the center’s programs.
FCCI Insurance Group’s teammates logged more than 500 volunteer hours to charities of their choosing in Manatee and surrounding counties in 2017.
In the past two years, It Works! and the It Works! Gives Back Foundation has developed a partnership with the Food Bank of Manatee to help alleviate hunger. It Works! provided 200,000 meals with monetary support, plus two food drives that have provided approximately 4,850 meals. The company also supports the Payton Wright Foundation, which assists families of children battling pediatric cancer locally and across the country. Activities have included supplies drive for care packages distributed to children and fundraising for gas gift cards to assist families with transportation costs to and from treatments.
Decision Point Assessment Solutions chose Southeastern Guide Dogs for its volunteer focus, helping to plan and execute fundraising walkathons for the organization that raises and trains dogs to provide support, comfort, and companionship to combat veterans and the visually impaired.
This year, employees at New England Machinery filled boxes of donated food for the Mayors’ Feed the Hungry program; donated blood to save 57 lives; and raised over $35,000 to help care for a child battling rare cancer.
It’s clear that the spirit of giving is alive and well among Bradenton area businesses, and not just today, but all year long.